The traditional 'jábegas' of Malaga took to the waters of Venice for the first time on Sunday, taking part in the 44th edition of the famous 'Vogalonga' a 30-kilometre exhibition route from St Mark's Square to the island of Burano.
Two clubs from El Palo and Pedregalejo were delighted to have the chance to participate in one of the most prestigious regattas in the world this year. “This is something that everybody who rows dreams of going to once in their life. I believe it is the biggest gathering of non-powered boats in the world,” says Felipe Romero, who was on board 'Carmen y Gloria', the jábega which belongs to the El Palo club.
The members of both clubs wore traditional Malaga fishermen's outfits: white shirt, waistcoat, red cummerbund, trousers which come between the knee and the ankle, and sandals.
Over 2,000 boats with participants from all over the world took part in the event, which began at 9am and lasted for over ten hours. "Rowing in Venice in a jábega is a spectacular feeling. I've never felt anything like it," said Agustín Montañez, president of the El Palo club. Silvia Campos, club secretary, shared his enthusiasm: "We've wanted to participate in a jábega event outside of Malaga and Spain for a long time, so we were thrilled to take part in this event," she said.
Luis Felipe, one of the participants in the El Palo team, said that the event was not without its difficulties: "Spending hours in the sun without food or water was very challenging," he explaned. "Due to tiredness and poor organisation there were also a few crashes in the water. Near the end of the route a boat of between 15 and 20 women who were raising money for breast cancer charities sank. We had to help them, and that slowed us down a lot," he said.
Leopolda Tapia from the Pedregalejo team said: "Everyone asked us where we were from. A man rowing a gondola stopped us and said that our boat was one of the most authentic, as it was actually made of wood. Almost all of the others were made of fibre."