University of Vienna: 3rd place for the rowing team at the Regata Storica 2021

The official approval for this year’s “Regata Storica” in Venice took place late due to the restrictive regulations (Italy) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The subsequent short-term invitation of Università Cá Foscari at the beginning of July posed a great challenge to our organisation, since this time only women’s teams were invited. Thanks to the great commitment of Theresa Zekoll, we were able to send a full team consisting of 8 athletes and one cox to Venice. Due to the short lead time, the official regulations were slightly adapted and so-called racing communities were allowed. This year, several Viennese universities and two alumni (University of Vienna, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Modul University Vienna) were represented in the rowing boat of the University of Vienna. A total of four rowing teams from Venice, Rome, Trentino and Vienna took part in the boat races, which consisted of the qualification rounds (Saturday, Sacca Fisola on Giudecca) and the small and big finals (Sunday, Canal Grande in Venice).

On the eve of the race, our rowers had the opportunity to test the historical boats “Galioni” during a training session for the first time to get used to the unconventional boat material. The rowing technique required for this type of boats differs enormously from the usual one for racing shells. For example, there is no wheelchair and you can only slide back and forth a few centimeters on a narrow wooden board. Especially for our team (mostly lightweight oarsmen) the heavy mass of the boat (almost 800 kg unladen weight) and the oars (approx. 20 kg per oar) represented an additional hardship. Supervised by Philipp Kornfeind (experienced participant), the team was able to learn the essential rowing technique during the training and did also practice some highly intensive elements (starts, race pace).

During the qualifying rounds, there were numerous head-to-head duels in which the Venetians once again demonstrated their dominance and won all rounds. Over a distance of 260m, the team of the University of Vienna managed to achieve a clear victory against Trentino and showed a nerve-racking race against Rome. With each race, significant progress was made in the development of the rowing technique of our students, which was also reflected in their race times. In addition to Venice, the team from Rome finally made it into the big final, the teams from Trentino and Vienna ended up in the small final.

Embedded in the historic Regata Storica, the rowing races started on Sunday at the Grand Canal where the teams rowed among numerous fans from the Rialto bridge 750m to the Università Cá Foscari. Broadcasted live on national TV (Rai1), our team was able to take the lead right from the start and put the opponents from Trentino under control. Halfway through the race, the lead already increased to several boat lengths and our students rowed impressively towards the finish. It was followed by a successful third place finish – we congratulate our rowing team on this great result and thank you for the brilliant performance at the Grand Canal on behalf of the University of Vienna!