Row like mad: Venetian-style gondoliers race in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gondoliers from across the country have gathered in Providence to show off their racing skills and to bond.

The U.S. Gondola Nationals, a convention for the small community of U.S. gondoliers, began Friday and concludes Sunday with gondola races and an awards presentation.

Matthew “Marcello” Haynes, owner of La Gondola Providence, held the first U.S. Gondola Nationals in Providence in 2012. That’s believed to be the first organized gondola race in the United States.

A gondolier who attended was inspired to hold the convention the following year in Huntington Beach, California, and it turned into an annual gathering.

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Haynes estimates there are 100 gondoliers nationwide, at most. About 30 are competing in Providence.

The competition includes single and tandem races for sprint, distance and slalom courses in the Providence River.

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