The six yachts entering Malaga Port on Monday afternoon. / ñito salas

A flotilla of sailing yachts pays tribute to Spain’s maritime history

It is taking a sculpture in honour of Juan Sebastián Elcano from Calpe, in Alicante, to the naval museum in the Golden Tower in Seville to mark the fifth centenary of the first round-the-world voyage

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

A flotilla of six sailing yachts, most of them Spanish-registered and between 10 and 12 metres in length, arrived in Malaga Port on Monday afternoon on a very special visit: members of the Association of Friends of Great Spanish Navigators and Explorers are doing a tour of the Mediterranean coasts to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first round-the-world voyage.

“We are taking a sculpture in honour of Juan Sebastián Elcano from Calpe, in Alicante, to the naval museum in the Golden Tower in Seville,” explained TV producer Fernando Navarrete, who is the president of the organising committee. They expect to arrive in Seville on 8 September, the same day that Elcano completed his circumnavigation of the globe in 1522.

The group of 20 sailors are doing the trip in stages and have already visited Cartegena and Almeria. After Malaga, they are heading for Algeciras and then Cadiz. Everywhere they stop, they organise a tribute to the Spanish explorer and navigator and give a talk about his achievements, because in general people know very little about him.

Endurance test

Nine yachts began this route, which is 555 nautical miles in length, but three have withdrawn. They are having to face some rough seas, such as on Sunday and Monday when they crossed from Melilla to Malaga. The group includes some maritime professionals but most are amateur sailors. A Guardia Civil patrol vessel accompanies them on each stage in case they get into difficulties.

Their trip has the backing of the National Commission for the Commemoration of the 5th Centenary of the first Round The World Voyage and the Spanish navy, among other institutions, for raising awareness of the historical and cultural legacy of great Spanish navigators and explorers in the development of mankind.