May 2017
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Testo italiano Testo Venessian

Boats of Venice and Her Lagoon

Venice ObServer: Big Cuiser Traffic Impact on the Historical Port of Venice
Voga Veneta Rowing Venetian Way
Voga Veneta Rowing Venetian Way
Rowing Venetian way, the chief of the boat, called popier (or pope), stands aft, and at the same time he pushes and drives the boat, even alone and with only one oar.
The rower stands, sometimes on the bottom of the boat (a pajol, on the dunnage), some others on the stern or on the nerva (border of the boat), he looks forward and handles a long oar, keeping himself on the left lai (side) of the boat.
It seems that at the dawning of the rowing was unimportant to row standing on the left or on the right, and that the general use at left came from war necessity, that called for having a weapon at hand on the right: the small rowing craft, infact, were often used as raiders and commandos.
The oar is a masterpiece in hydrodynamics and is kept in position on the forcola (crutch), which is opened backward, just by the oarerīs skill to have the oar come out from the water exactly in the moment when the push is exhausted and with the opportune angulation.
The popier compensates for the asymmetrical push (called premada) of the lone oar, leaving the oar in the water while bringing back the blade at the bow, giving a lateral push leftwards to the stern by the means of the turn of the wrist and of the pelvis; this operation is called staėa).
Various rowing dispositions, either relatives to the oarer position and to the position of the oar on the crutch, allow a nearly perfect craft manoeuvrability, like a 360° turn on the boat axis.

There are two classical ways of rowing:

If the oarers are two, the second, called provier (or provin), becomes the main boat propulsor, while the popier mainly operate the oar to keep the direction. In the common language the two roles are called vogar da pope and vogar da prova.
In some crafts the rowers can be many (see disdotona) and they arrange by and by towards stem alternatively one on the left and one on the right.
It also exist a version where each oarer handle two oars, a la Vaesana.

As a curiosity, it is noticeable that rowing ways similar to the Venetian one can be found between the boatmen of Thailand and of the South of China.