Gondola owner has rowing in his blood

Tim Reinard brought his love for Venice and authentic vessels to Huntington Harbour.

January 09, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Tim "Bepi" Reinard, owner of Sunset Gondola, shares stories as he gives members of the media a tour of Huntington Beach Harbor.
Tim "Bepi" Reinard, owner of Sunset Gondola,… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

He labels himself as "Venetophile," or someone obsessed with everything dealing with Venice.

No, not the city in California, but the water-locked city in Italy.

When Tim Reinard, owner of Sunset Gondola in Huntington Beach, was 11 years old, he stumbled upon a book his family owned with the picture of the Piazza San Marco on it.

The Long Beach native was immediately hooked and when he turned 19, he had the opportunity of visiting the city he had read about as a little boy.

"I enjoyed reading about the place and its history," Reinard said. "People would give me Venice-related gifts for Christmas."

After working in New York for a company that supplies tax software for accountants, Reinard decided to pick up and move back to Long Beach where he currently lives.

He had nothing but free time after paying off all his debts and picked up small jobs to keep busy.


Then 14 years ago, a friend who was a gondolier suggested he try rowing a gondola.

"I gave it a go and that was that," Reinard said about falling head-over-heels for a newly discovered passion. "Anyone who starts to row will be hooked for life and will be a gondolier for life. It just gets in your blood. There's no other thing like it."

That's when he decided to open Sunset Gondola in Huntington Harbour in 2006, where he now shares his love of Venice with the public.

Reinard has a fleet of four gondolas that travel 10 miles of waterway in the harbor.

Each vessel is authentic, meaning they were made in Venice under Ente Gondola guidelines, the governing body of gondolas worldwide.

They are made of 280 pieces, comprised of eight different types of wood and decorated with various bronze ornaments.

"If you go to different [gondola] companies [in the United States], they don't have the different carvings on the boat," Reinard said.

Each boat has its own name. There's Nelly, Michela and Fabio. But the gondola that has heads turning is his recently acquired Ducati red vessel, Rossa.

Large bronze seahorses can be found on the side of the boat while the white ferro, the front ornament, sits atop of the gondola's front tip.

The bright red vessel was purchased by Reinard who received it on Dec. 19. It had been part of an art exhibit called "Venice in Venice" in 2011.

The Getty Museum partnered with the Venice Biennale, a major art exhibition in Italy, for which each side sent art pieces to one another.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles