The gondola is a traditional Venetian flat-bottomed rowing boat, suited to the conditions of the Venetian lagoon. It is similar to a canoe, except that it is narrower. It is steered by a gondolier, who uses a rowing oar, which is not fixed to the hull, in a sculling manner and acts as the rudder. For centuries, the gondola was the main means of transport and the most common watercraft within Venice. Various types of gondolas are also used in special regattas (rowing races held amongst gondoliers). Their main role today, however, is to take tourists on rides. There are about 400 licensed gondoliers in Venice and a similar number of boats, down from the thousands that have traveled along the canals centuries ago.