The Canottieri Diadora is the Venetian rowing club where I have been taking voga alla veneta lessons recently. It is a very old rowing club, with a very particular history.
The club was founded in 1898 in Zara in Dalmatia, modern day Zadar in Croatia, by a small group of rowers of mostly Venetian descent. Zara had been under Venetian rule from 1409 until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, and a good part of the population were descendents of settlers from the Veneto region in Italy. They called the club S. C. Diadora, which is the Venetian name for the city of Zara.
Zara was, however, under Austro-Hungarian rule at the time, and the Venetian club was not welcome in the Austrian rowing federation, so the club had great difficulty participating in races. It took a long strenous battle, but in the end the club managed to become associated with the “Reale Rowing Club Italiano”, after which the S. C. Diadora could participate in national Italian races, and later in international events under the Italian flag.
In 1907 the club won their first medals at the internation regattas of Trieste, which was followed by many others in national and international events, including national Italian championships and an bronze medal in Mens Eights at the 8th Olympic games in Paris in 1924.
The Second World War put an end to all this. Many club members died in the war, and many others fled Zara for Italy, as the city was all but destroyed. It was the end of the S. C. Diadora.
However, in 1961 a group of old members got together in Ancona in Italy, and participated in an event there under the blue/white colours of the S. C. Diadora.
The following year a group of Venetian rowers, together with some of the old members of the club in Zara, now living in Venice, met on the Lido di Venezia and reformed the club as the Circolo Canottieri Diadora, with seat on the Lido di Venezia, and the Diadora has been there ever since. Other Venetian rowing clubs gave a hand in establishing a new fleet for the reformed Diadora.
As basically a new club, competitive results didn’t come immediately. In the 1960s results were few, but things got better in 1970s and 1980s, with many regional and some national wins. The activities were extended to racing kayaks in the early 1970s, and more slowly, to voga alla veneta.
The first Venetian style boat in the club was a veneta a quattro, which was given to the club by the rowing club of the railway workers. Not a competitive boat, it became nevertheless a means of training, and in 1973 the Diadora won the Historical Regatta in a veneta on load from the Querini rowing club in Venice. The Diadora team consistently won the Historical Regatta for several years in a row. One of the members of the team was Lino Farnea, who still coaches rowers at the Diadora at the age of 70.
The mid-70s was a time of revival of voga alla veneta in both Venice and on the mainland. The Vogalonga, started in 1975, was a part of this revival. Many of the city’s rowing clubs gradually switched their focus from English style rowing to Venetian style rowing, and so did the Diadora. Consequently, at the Diadora it is now possible to row English style, kayak and row Venetian style, both competitively and recreationaly.
The Diadora now has a fleet of several mascarete, a gondolone and a caorlina, and has access to the municipal fleet of racing boats for use in the municipal regattas which are held at various places in the lagoon each summer.
Lino Farnea is coaching still at the Diadora, and also at the Scuola Navale F. Morosini at Sant’Elena, and he is often a referee at the municipal regattas.