In the Basque Country, the rowing tradition has its origin in the fishermen, who had to row more quickly than other crews to be the first to sell their fish and get the best prices. In those first regattas, the participants were formed by different crews of fishermen who rowed using the same boats as the ones in which they fished.

The earliest regattas or official competitions between rowing boats go back to the 19th century.For example, the most important regatta, the Bandera de la Concha, was disputed for the first timeon August 3, 1865 and won by the fishermen’s guild of Ondarroa. From the 1951 edition on, the competition was open to men who were not fishermen. It was sufficient to be included in the census of the townof the guild being represented.

One curious event took place during the first fifteen years of the 1900s, when, despite the fact that until that time, regattas were part of the summer programme of events,the city council of San Sebastián, considered rowing a coarse sport and not worthy of being displayed to summer visitors.Instead, sailboat regattas were planned. The rowing regattas were later held again.They have been organised in La Concha without interruption up to the present day, except during the Spanish Civil War.

The fishing spirit of the regattas continues to remain, even in the name of the boats, which are called “traineras”, as they were the boats in which fishing was done using a “traína” or “traíña”, a net that was especially appropriate for catching sardines. The “traineras” of today have not changed all that much compared to the old ones. In the same way as rowing has evolved to incorporate devices that enable the boat to move in such a way that the power of the rowing is increased, the “traineras” have maintained their fixed bench and wooden oars that are still used to perform the typical manoeuvre known as the “ciaboga”. This consists of turning the boat around completely by rowing forwards with the oars of one sideand backwards with those on theother side, or rowing those of one side backwards and dipping the prow oar into the water, thereby creating a point of support while the skipper, in the poop, moves the steering device in a circular direction.

Among the members of the Udalarrantz are several townships with an important rowing tradition.Thus, the first mention made of the participation of Hondarribia bears witness to a regatta organised in Baiona in 1862 in which Hondarribia won the race.The first official reference in writing of the participation of a boat from Orio, dates back to the year 1879 in the Regattas of la Concha in San Sebastián.

At the present time, “trainera” regattas are quite a sight to see, and generate a lot of excitement (up to 100,000 onlookers). They are held during the summer months (between July and September), when rowers from all over the Cantabrian area (Euskadi, Cantabria and Galicia) come together to compete in the most important competition (the Trainera Clubs Association league). If you would like some more information on the dates and places where the regattas are held, you can visit the website

Udalarrantz - Red de municipios pesqueros del País Vasco