Caians rowing in Venice

  • 23 November 2022

Four Caians swapped the River Cam for Venice’s Grand Canal for an international rowing festival.

Heqing Huang (Sociology PhD 2017) combined with alumni Marta Baldrighi (Medicine PhD 2015), Jilles Fermont (Medicine PhD 2016), and Xiao Zheng (Natural Sciences 2014) to row with Harvard University in the Regata Storica di Venezia in September.

The historical water parade dates from the 13th century and consists of various races in traditional boats including galleys, peatoni, barges, and gondolas.

This annual event is popular with both the Venetians and visitors. The Grand Canal was packed with boats of all shapes and loudly cheering spectators. Contestants of some of the races dressed up in costumes, boosting the festive atmosphere of the water parade.

“I’ve been rowing on the River Cam most of the time. Rowing off Cam was truly special, especially in such a magnificent festival!” Heqing says.

A rowing event on the Grand Canal in Venice

Marta adds: “I felt honoured to be invited to row in the Regata Storica. Having learnt to row at Caius, it was particularly special for me to be able to share this experience with fellow Caians and alumni.”

The four Caians raced in the International Universities Boat Challenge, which was in the traditional eight-oared galeoni. The 750-metre course runs through the Grand Canal starting at the world-renowned Rialto Bridge.

Jilles says: “It is the second time for me to participate in this invitation-only race. Besides it being an incredible and unique experience, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet friends I met in Boston during my studies. This year due to last-minute changes not everyone from the original crew could make it, but it created the opportunity to bring in fellow Caians.”

Xiao adds: “Rowing the Regata Storica in a traditional galleon was an incredible and unique experience. It was special to be in Venice to see old friends again and have the opportunity to make new ones.”

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