A few months ago a small group of Pickering rotarians had their imagination fired with a plan to take a small rowing boat to Venice to row in a regatta called the Vogalonga. The idea being to have a serious challenge, and raise a significant amount of money for charity.
The Vogalonga was born as a protest by those Venetians who wished to show the discomfort caused by motor boats, still one between the greatest problems in safeguarding the structure of the city. It takes place every year in May with over 1000 boats competing, and Pickering Rotary Club will be rowing in the 2016 event.
The start of the Vogalonga is given by a cannon shot, fired from the island of San Giorgio Maggiore , opposite the Basin of San Marco and the Doge's Palace. The course covers some 30 kilometres. From the start the boats head for the "fish tail Venice" ie Sant'Elena, they run along to pass between the Arsenal of Venice and the island of Certosa. The boats then pass along the islands of Vignola, the island of Sant'Erasmo and the island of San Francesco del Deserto. Returning to Venice they bypass the island of Burano passing to the east of it.
From there the boats enter the canal that runs through the island of Mazzorbo. Here many crews take a rest stop for food drinks and live music. The boats the go via the island of Murano, and then reach Venice, the Cannaregio Canal where the crowd awaits the participants to the cries of bravo and viva! The boats then travel down the Grand Canal of Venice and pass under the bridge Rialto and Accademia . The finish line is located at the Dogana da March , the tip of Customs, facing the Doge's Palace .
Finding a suitable boat that could be modified to look like a pirate boat, and be rowed in the Vogalonga proved to be problematic, but after a false start a boat was found where it had been resting for many years in a boatyard in Hartlepool. It needed quite a lot of renovation work, and it also needed a new name.
With modifications proceeding apace we also had to decide on a charity and after some discussion it was determined that Marie Curie (North Yorkshire Branch) fitted the bill. The name we came up with for the boat did not sound terribly blood thirsty, but we thought was apt "Sweet Charity".
In 2015 Pickering and District Rotary Club will have been in existence for 50 years so this project is a great way to mark the milestone of half a century of working for the community, both in practical matters and fund raising for charity.
Pickering Rotary chose Marie Curie because it is the leading charity providing care to people with any terminal illness in their own homes, or in one of its nine hospices. The charity is also a leader in research into the best ways of caring for people with a terminal illness. In addition to this the charity designs and advises on end of life services and works to ensure that the best possible care and patient choice is at the heart of commissioning end of life care across the UK. All Marie Curie services are completely free of charge.
Watch out for Sweet Charity on the first day of the Tour De Yorkshire. She will be safely moored at the end of the sprint finish in Pickering. There will be a bloodthirsty gang of pirates in attendance, so bring your camera, and have your photograph taken with the crew. However, hold tight to your pieces of eight as the pirates can be very persuasive when it comes to filling treasure chests for charity.
in addition to the Tour De Yorkshire Sweet Charity will be at many of the local agricultural shows, and other high profile events in the Ryedale area over the coming months. The band of pirates hoping to hit that target of £10,000.