Gondoliers in Venice

Gondoliers cross the lagoon at last year's event.

Local gondoliers will be competing this Sunday, June 9, in a 20-mile rowing marathon in Italy.

Long Beach’s entry in Vogalonga includes the four-man team of Michael O’Toole, Tim Tyler, Colin Monaco and Hayden Fitzpatrick.

This will be Gondola Getaways 34th consecutive participation in the Vogalonga, a race that travels through the lagoon of Venezia. They are the only American team to successfully row this event every year in the Venetian “Voga Veneta” style.

Gondola Getaway’s O’Toole strives to get all the details right. He immerses himself in the Italian culture during visits to be sure the gondola experience in Long Beach is authentic.

He puts that same passion in the selection and education of gondoliers.

Naturally, all Long Beach gondoliers undergo a training program that includes the basics like a swim test, boaters license, and knot tying, first aid and CPR classes.

But did you know there is a list of facts that each gondolier is drilled on as an "Ambassador of Naples Islands?" Some of the questions like, “Name the 11 eating establishments on the island” are easy with minimal research.

Others, like those related to the eight bridges that touch the islands — Davies, Reese, Appian Way, West Toledo, East Toledo, West Neapolitan (Treasure Island), and the Ravenna or Chinese Bridge — are a bit trickier.

In Venice, legend claims that couples who kiss while under the Bridge of Sighs will enjoy eternal love and happiness. It is unclear which Long Beach bridges carry that luck, so romantics recommend hedging your bets and kissing under each of them.

Here are some gondolier-worthy bridge details:

The John H. Davies Bridge, dedicated in 1955, spans Alamitos Bay from Marina Drive into Naples. Most people call this bridge by its proper name and the adjacent Davies Launch Ramp is well labeled.

The bridge on Second Street between Naples and Belmont Shore is rarely called by its given name. Most locals refer to it as the Second Street Bridge, and rowers sometimes call it the “Graffiti Bridge” because of the tagging that can only be seen by those on boats that fit under the bridge. The bridge was named in 1967 for former Long Beach councilman Louis Reese. Reese was a property developer and Peninsula resident.

The Appian Way Bridge, dedicated in 1961, links Naples and Belmont Shore on Appian Way. Of the four remaining canal bridges, the one at Ravenna is the lowest on the island.

Let’s send our team off with a good luck kiss as they head to Italy, and a wish that they return with an even greater passion for our Long Beach water community.

Junior Match Racing

David Wood won the 2019 Junior Match Racing Invitational as a repeat champion. Wood, representing Balboa YC, raced in the two-day regatta without a loss, sweeping San Diego YC’s Peter Joslin in the semi-finals and fellow BYC competitor Jeffrey Petersen in the finals to win the Junior Match Racing Invitational for the second year in a row.

The Grade 4 match racing event included six teams sailing modified Solings on Alamitos Bay.

Third-place finisher, LBYC’s Trent Turigliatto, went into Sunday’s round robin with four wins and three losses and with the youngest crew of the event. Alex Lech (13) and Preston Woodworth (14) were at times both on jib when the winds increased.

The 18-year-old Long Beach Wilson grad and University of Miami student raced in May at the College National Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Turigliatto, the only other World Sailing rated match racer, at 202, was pleased with the finish and the progression of his young crew.

“It’s a new team, and I get to show them the ropes; helping to get the next generation involved,” he said.

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