A 30km course along the canals through the most pleasant and charming places in the lagoon was charted out. The press and city institutions offered vital support. Boats were scheduled to meet up in St. Mark’s Basin (Bacino S.Marco) opposite the Ducal Palace on the day of ‘La Sensa’ (Ascension Day). It was May 8th 1975. In actual fact, nobody expected such a huge turnout… What a sight! 500 boats carrying approximately 1500 rowers silently gliding into the calm expectant waters of the Bacino, the shot of a cannon and then the steady swish of numerous oars all at once. There were gondolas with a whole variety of other Venetian boats: the “sandolo”, the “mascareta”, the “caorlina”, the “topa”, the “peata”, the “vipera”, the “s’ciopon”. These rowed alongside other crafts including some of the most prestigious boats belonging to Venetian sports clubs and boats steered by rowing champions who had brought their whole family along for the occasion. Venice had awakened and once again found a voice and taken on a new life form. It wasn’t only Venetians who were present either; right from the very beginning, crews from the surrounding coastal areas and the mainland took part: they came from Carole and Chioggia, and from Padua, Treviso and Riva del Garda; even from as far away as Lombardy and Piemonte. Delfo Utimpergher of ll Gazzettino described it as “a rare victory of the oar over the engine, a rediscovery of the evocative lagoon, a gathering not of protesters but of individuals showing solidarity with Venice: trying to reach out and defend the city against one of its most thorny problems; the adverse effects of wave motion caused by motor traffic. The Vogalonga gradually became more and more popular with ever greater numbers of participants until it reached 1550 boats carrying 5800 entrants in 2007.
In a very short time, this wave of enthusiasm gave rise to more than fifty rowing clubs. Gradually they equipped themselves with splendid 10, 12 or 18-oar crafts. All this contributed to a renewed sense of pride in the area and its handicrafts which prior to this event had almost disappeared.