Basque sports

Rowing races

Festival of the sea

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Races between trainera rowing boats are another of the Basque sports that have their origins in work, in this case inshore fishing, which before steam boats came along involved rowing. The crew that got back to port first knew that they could sell their catch for the best price, which made a sense of competition aboard inevitable.

When steam finally replaced the strength of the arrantzales (fishermen) and their oars, the competitive instinct continued in boats that soon became stylised, adapted to compete in races, though today they are still the same length - 12 metres - as the fishing boats of the past.

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Trainera races are held close to the coast, so that they can be watched from land, but nearly always in the open sea. This makes the state of the sea crucial to a competition which always features some spectacular moments.

The prize is always an embroidered flag of the locality where the competition takes place, so that each race is popularly known as the "Flag of..."

Choose your flag!

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The most prized flag is that of La Concha, where races have been held since 1879 in the bay of the same name, filling San Sebastián with people and colour. Bilbao, Portugalete, Getxo, Zierbena, Orio, Zarautz, Pasajes, Hondarribia and Bermeo are also the settings for exciting races in summer.

In recent years the Mediterranean city of Barcelona has been the venue for the start of the season, as a shop window for the Basque Country, presenting it through one of the most spectacular of Basque sports.

Look up the calendar of races and time your next visit to the Basque Country to coincide with one of them!

Want more suggestions for ways of experiencing Basque sport at first hand?