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Spreading the word about Malaga's traditional rowing boats around the world
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Spreading the word about Malaga's traditional rowing boats around the world

The Club La Espaílla de El Palo travelled along Spain's Duero river this summer in a 'jábega' in an effort to promote their sport

Marina Rivas

Malaga

Wednesday, 16 August 2023, 17:59

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For the last 15 years, the veteran rowers of the Club La Espaílla, in the El Palo district of Malaga, have been organising an unusual and very sporty summer outing. Once a year they travel to a location in Spain or elsewhere in Europe to row one of the traditional Malaga boats, known as jábegas. This summer they took the boat 'Carmen and Gloria', named in honour of the deceased daughters of a team member, to the Duero river.

They choose routes of hundreds of kilometres along well-known rivers and canals. Over the years, they have rowed through locations as diverse as Venice, Sête in France, Bilbao, Amsterdam, Cornwall, and the Strait of Gibraltar. "We have been doing this for 15 years for the simple fact that people know about the jábegas, to give a little publicity to what many of us in Malaga love so much," explained the president of the club, Agustín Montañez.

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This summer, 15 rowers (men and women) have taken to the water. They travelled from Malaga to Fromista (Palencia) in a minibus, with their boat in tow. Over the course of five intense days, from Friday 11 August to Tuesday 15 August, the Malagueños rowed 40-50 kilometres a day, totalling more than 180 kilometres.

At the end of each improvised 'stage', they would tie up the boat and return to their hotel. Montañez said: "People are amazed by what we do. They ask where we're from, what kind of boat is that? When we tell them that it has 5,000 years of history, that it is Phoenician and that it is typical of Malaga, they are stunned."

And, of course, the sight of this group of experienced rowers in an authentic Malaga jábega is not a common one in inland Spain. It's not a personal challenge, nor is it done for a charitable cause; it's their way of life and their way of enjoying a different kind of holiday, spreading the name of Malaga wherever they go. It is a tradition that the club intends to maintain for a long time to come.

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