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tradition represented by the lateen sail
13. 10. 2015.

LATINSKO IDRO - Murter 27.9.2015.


Once again, people from all over are gathering in Murter. 80 year old Jakov Letinić came all the way from Mali Iž, sailing for six hours during bura and slept during the chilly night under the deck of his gajeta. The Mohović family from Moščenićka Draga, along with friends, who represent the activists for preserving maritime culture arrived on the legendary guc MD551. Two falkuša come arrived from the south of Dalmatia. The falkuša Palagruža sailed for the first time in the murter regatta. With it came the well known falkuša Mikula. Leut Slobodna Dalmacija came from Split, but our friends from Hvar couldn't come with their boats due to bad weather, so they joined us as crewmembers. All of our friends and guests that came from far away show our dedication to preserve the maritime tradition.

The Lateen Sail days this year lasted for almost a month. Last evening the Palagruža association had a presentation about 3D scaning large objects such as boats. After that they prepared a buffet with komiža cake, dry figs and ... and a marenda the next day just before regatta.

Bura, bura, bura.

Sailors always ask how the weather will be beforethey depart. This is not small talk for them, but a matter of great importance so they can know if it's safe to set sail and when. Because of that, the main conversation topic on the day of the regatta is the weather.

Even though the number of registrations was about 80, similar to previous years, only around 50 of them arrived to the starting line. The forecast said strong wind was to be expected, with a high chance of it becoming stronger during the regatta. Now, rough sailing is expected. The situation is serious enough that more high expirienced crewmembers board the same boat, encouraging others to better think about their decision.

An explosive start. The boats rushed ahead and scattered all over the Murter bay. Usually a group of boats would sail together to Gradina and further, but not this time. Everyone had to fight their own battle with the wind and sea. Even though the regatta route was long, it felt very fast. Every mistake during turns gives the competition an edge and risks the boat flipping over, causing some competitors to give up.

As I'm taking pictures on the little dinghy I keep getting splashed by the water. As I'm struggling to keep my lenses and glasses dry, I miss out on taking pictures of the struggle between man and sea. I can't complain too much, since I still manage to catch some of it. The Austrian photographer Georg Gindl caught a few interesting duels, while the British photographer Jon Cadd is alone on the dinghy. Later, Cadd told me this was his best traditional boat sailing that he ever attended. With his rich expirience from these kinds of events, Gordan Ukić from Rovinj knows where he can expect to see something interesting. Before heading back, we stop at the final turn near Mala Arta. As we check the time, we see that only one hour and fifteen minutes passed since the start. This route usually took more than two hours.

The favourites approach one after another, and turn with a risky maneouver down the wind. I'm here with five other dinghys and two bigger boats, when there was an accident. The mighty leut Jaruh flipped. The whole ten person crew was in the sea. How and why it happened doesn't matter, as saving people was a priority. My dinghy was the first to arrive to them. There was a child on the boat and we got him on board first, then a young boy and one adult. The water was warmer than the wind, so we rushed to take the people to shore.

This event sparked a lively discussion. It also shows the skill required to sail with a lateen sail. After this many will think about the dangers it involves and how to stay safe. I know I'll be going with a life jacket on me and my photo gear.

On the bright side, this event featured Lateen sail in the central news. The fact that there were ministers on the boat gave the event more media attention.

The organizers, just like the rest of us, are optimistically following the intent of organising the Festival of the Sea, inspired by Brest and Morbihan, regarding the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the Lateen Sail.


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