This fun family event is what summer in Vrboska is all about! Involving local and visiting kids alike, the Vrboska Tourist Board issues an annual challenge for the most creative sailing vessel to be paddled from the 2nd bridge, under the main bridge, round the little island and back again to the start. But it’s not about being fastest, this is more like performance art and it’s a popular event!
It’s early August, and we’re deep into a heat wave that doesn’t look like breaking any time soon. Events are held in the evenings, usually late, but in this case, families gathered in the upper harbour at 6:30pm to watch the show. There were three entries in the race, and the trophies were set out ready.
The first team ready were the “Ludi Rokeri” or Mad Rockers – a couple of young lads on a paddleboard with a guitar and a drum.It looked like one would be paddling while the other would be in the water pushing, which could be a useful strategy.
Next to take to the water were the Cherry Blossom team, a confection of Japanese motifs mounted on what looked to be a large old door, and crewed by three geishas and a ninja. This was not, I felt, going to be a speedy craft with that square front end, but it was certainly bright and interesting as it made its way to the starting line.
More time passed, people arrived to watch. Kids shouted support for their friends, and the drum banged away. The trophies and winner’s medals were set out ready, announcements made and music started up. And finally, we have our third competitor making their way to the starting position. This is “Servantes i Lavanderi” or Cervantes and the Washerwomen, a literary allusion that I had to look up afterwards. This would appear to reference a gallery slave that Don Quixote quizzed as to how he ended up that way – and it was for lovingly holding on to a basket of fresh washing. At least I think that’s the allusion!
And… they’re off! The first thing that happens, Mt Fuji erupts, and the Cherry Blossom special trails vast plumes of fiery red-orange smoke as they paddle away. How brilliant is that?
As they pass, I discover they have a special canine team member, who wears a fish, so I assume is a Japanese fishing dog?
Enveloped in said smoke, we have the Mad Rockers getting up speed…
…, and at the back the washerwomen get started on the laundry. Notice at this point, it’s one wee girl doing all the hard effort of propelling the craft!
Round the bend, Mt Fuji shows itself to have no steering worth mentioning, and goes somewhat wide. The speedy rockers immediately take the inside lane and shoot past, banging away on the drum.
And the washing is now ready to be hung on the line, which involves one of the girls at the front having to stand up and make her precarious way to the back.Much rocking of the boat. By now Cervantes in the striped shirt seems to have taken over the rowing.
Under the main bridge is no problem for the rocker boys on the paddleboard, they easily take it sitting down. For Mt Fuji, however, it’s a little more of a challenge. The crew have to hunker down, and while most of the decorations fit under, the balloons at the back end are sacrificed. Dad has to enter the water to remove them.
By now the washing line is filling up, and Cervantes still at the oars.
After once round the little island, it’s back under the bridge for the rocker boys on the paddleboard. A good crowd cheers them on. They are clearly going to be first home, barring accidents.
Following next, we have Mt Fuji, as the team again bends down to get under the bridge. The fishing dog considers jumping ship, but decides to stay for the present.A little further on, and replenishments arrive for the volcano’s next eruption.
The washing line makes its stately progress round the island.
Excitement as Mt Fuji has reloaded by Dad and we have more smoke for the grand finale!
At that point, the fishing dog decides enough is enough and is escorted up the steps to dry land. She really has been very patient, and earned the chew toy she’s about to get.
The balloons from the Cherry Blossom boat are carried back and quietly parked. They will shortly be given out to the assembled kids as souvenirs.
The washerwomen, true performance artists, are still determinedly following their storyline. The washing is all packed away, and as they wend their way back, the girls change into long white nightdresses, settling themselves to sleep. Cervantes rows them home. Well done!
Here are the final results, remember prizes are for creativity, not speed:
- Cherry Blossom / Mt Fuji
- Servantes i Lavanderi
- Ludi Rockeri
What a great effort by everyone involved, this was so much fun. Many thanks to the Vrboska Tourist Board for organizing, and all the competitors (and their families and dog) for giving us so much wonderful entertainment!
Himself shot a live Facebook video of the race, which you can see here.(hopefully!)