Should We Brand Our Traditional Boats and Regattas?

By 30 September 2017

On September 29, Murter island celebrated the day of its patron saint Mihovil (Michael). The island population doesn't mess around when it comes to important events, so they actually celebrate throughout Septmeber with a manifestation titled Days of the Lateen Sail (Dani Latinskog Idra) and a regatta featuring traditional wooden boats with lateen sails. Why not turn such events into a better-marketed, popular brand? 

We've already written about the traditional regatta that was introduced as part of the celebration 19 years ago; take a look at this piece to learn more about the history of lateen sails.

When Dr Vladimir Skračić from Murter got the idea to organise the lateen regatta 19 years ago, his main goal was to revive the tradition of a vessel that heavily marked the life of Murter population in the last 150 years or so. He reached out to Željko Jerat, a member of a family from Murter with a long tradition in maritime affairs; Jerat in turn talked to two other prominent residents of the island, and the plan was a go, reported Slobodna Dalmacija.

At the time, there were only three boats equipped with lateen sails on Murter: two gajeta boats named Šimica and Trtuša, and one kaić boat. The three musketeers of lateen sails spread the word and carried out an action to restore four more gajetas using various materials they found lying around their houses and voila – the start of the first lateen regatta on Murter saw no less than seven boats!

In time, the regatta grew into a manifestation that now features 77 boats, not only from Murter island, but from the wider area ranging from Krk and Rab on Kvarner to Vis island in Dalmatia. People from all over the Adriatic united to revive the tradition and restore the old boats; they also built new ones to keep this priceless facet of island history alive.

Asked about the future of the regatta, Jerat said the same question needs to be posed to the public, the local authorities and state institutions: "How much do we actually care and are we ready for the next step forward? Judging by the potential [the regatta] has now, and also by the fact that various other places nowadays organise similar sailing events and compete in who will grant them more funding... Is it time to start organising, say, five-day sailing trips from town to town, somewhere in Šibenik-Knin County or on the border with Zadar County? The boats are attractive and original, so they would lure visitors and become not only exhibits, but also little economic subjects!"

A similar thing is known to happen in France, noted the reporters of Slobodna Dalmacija – we take place in their manifestations while they turn an immense profit in Brest, on the islands of Morbihan bay or in Sète, a port city on the Mediterranean. "That's exactly what I mean. For example, there's a manifestation taking place in Sète around Easter that's visited by hundreds of thousands of guests, almost half a million of visitors. I won't even mention Morbihan and Brest! I can't get this out of my head, and that's exactly what Skračić once called 'tourism for the new age", said Jerat.

Asked if the local heritage should be given a new, economic function, Jerat agreed. "We inherited something so original from our great-grandfathers, that type of sailing and that maritime life that is still going on, and if we aren't capable of turning it into a brand – we can even call it a business in controlled conditions, as we're talking about a specific, protected area – if we aren't capable of creating new value based on that and make profit along the way, that's a pity. That would be a sign of our helplessness and a lack of interest from the state. We should try to spin this idea, even though it's not that new, we should carry out a survey and test the local authorities and potential investors to see if it could be done, otherwise we'll only stick to individual regattas that do gather friends and hardworking people, but in a way, end up being more of a public expenditure than profit", concluded Jerat.

The regatta starts on October 1 at 15:00, to be followed by an award ceremony and an entertainment programme in the evening. You can find the detailed schedule here.


Translation of excerpts from Slobodna Dalmacija.