Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brawn and skill needed for traditional boat race

It was a big day in the Village, boat race day. Now this is not the Oxford and Cambridge boat race. It is racing El Port de la Selva style with fishing boats with six oarsmen and a cox. There is a lot of excitement around the races and on our evening constitutional walk to the dock we have watched various teams out practicing, the chant of the cox drifting across the darkening bay.

There are only three boats in the competition but a number of teams use each boat. Arriving on the fish market dock we were greeted with loud music blaring forth from the speakers. That's okay as the event is sponsored by the local Mackintosh disco. We found a place to sit along the dock and watched as the boats lined up, which sometimes takes almost as long as the event itself as it is difficult to maneuver the boats in to the exact position on the starting line. Then there is frenzied excitement from the loudspeaker, a countdown and the boats are off. There were separate male and female events and some mixed crews as well as older teams racing much younger teams. We still aren't clear on the criteria.

Once the race was started it was up to the end of the dock and a difficult turn around the buoys. At this point the race could be won or lost depending on how close to the buoy the teams could get and how fast they could get around it. It means the rowers closest to the buoy had to stop rowing until they were nearly around then it was a mad dash back to the finish. By this time it was easy to see which teams had been practicing as they were the ones that didn't fade in the second half of the race.

We didn't stay until the very end, although we were almost persuaded by the delicious smell of sardines barbecuing over branches of olive trees. This was being served with the traditional pan tomat or tomato rubbed into bread, along with beer, wine or cava. We opted to return home to watch the final races from our terrace while eating our homemade gazpacho.

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