Bilbao’s Sail In festival highlights the culture and dangers of ocean navigation


Films, lectures and courses at the upcoming Sail In festival in the city of Bilbao will bring the culture and dangers of high seas navigation to life.

The Basque people, of mysterious origin, possessing a unique language and gathered around where the Spanish coastal city of Bilbao now stands, took to the ocean for food. As early as the 7th century, they hunted Basque whales not only in their local Bay of Biscay, but as far as Iceland, the Outer Hebrides and Newfoundland. Because a single whale could weigh sixty tons (including 30 tons of fat used for lamps and fuel, as well as its precious tongue – a delicacy best served with salt), crews needed to hone their navigation skills. to hunt, kill and transport these whales. massive mammals.

During the 9th and 10th centuries, Basque sailors also clashed with Viking raiders and then copied their hull designs to better navigate the long sea voyages to hunt northern cod. Using oak wood and iron ore, they’ve upgraded fleets over time to better navigate the chimeric scum of the Bay of Biscay, as well as roam the distance for weeks on end.

Over time, the region around the city of Bilbao (or Bizkaia, in the local Basque language of Euskara) has become a prominent position for boat builders and sailors. The Santa María, famous as one of the three ships of Christopher Columbus in search of the “new world”, was probably built by Basque craftsmen.

The city’s association with sailing and ocean adventures continues. From March 1 to 4, Bilbao will host the fifth Sail In Festival. The gathering attracts not only those who enjoy hoisting sails, handling lanyards and navigating the oceans, but also anyone interested in the culture of sailing. It is for (as described in the event brochure) “… those interested in the sea, nature and adventure.”

Sail In includes films, lectures and courses. Watch Susie Goodall in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, or François Bernard in Captain of Utopia or the documentary on the American sailor Mike Plant and his radical-designed sailboat Coyote. To verify Fly with your heart: a journey, a dream, a life—A documentary directed by Teva Perrone about Liz Clark’s decade of adventures (with her cat) on ‘Swell Voyage’. Tribute to the icon Bernard Moitessier included in the film La Longue course (The Long Journey) based on his book on touring the world, and more, during and after the famous 1968-1969 Golden Globe Race.

Interviews will include François Gabart recalling the nonstop global Vendée Globe race in 2012-2013, and Luis Sáenz Mariscal recalling his 2017 America’s Cup victory with Emirates Team New Zealand. Don McIntryre from Adelaide, Australia is now the Founder and Race President of the 2018 Golden Globe Race, and as an explorer and circumnavigator, he will recount nautical adventures, including a recreation of the Bounty journey (think Mutiny on the Bounty with Fletcher Christian) from Tonga to West Timor, as well as his annual expeditions to Antarctica. Paula Gonzalvo from Castellón will tell about her navigation on the Ionian, Aegean and Adriatic seas (as well as the Channel and more) as well as her blog Allende los mares.

The Master Classes will include Juan Kouyoumdjian leading “Breaking the Rules – The Challenge of Innovative Design” and Luis Sáenz Mariscal explaining how the rules are applied to technological developments in sailing.

Tickets are available online or at the event, and if purchased before the end of February, they cost 25 euros ($ 21) for the entire festival.

The Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean, north of Bilbao, is bounded on the south by the horizontal northwest coast of Spain and vertically on the east by the west coast of France. The extension of the continental shelf causes here shallow waters which contribute to rough seas, especially when the gales of the Atlantic bring up their characteristic fury. Yet these waters can also be placid and calm. Bilbao, home of centuries of ocean navigators, is a suitable setting for this Sail In Festival. It was from there that generations of sailors, forced by harsh conditions, perfected their designs, techniques and love for exploring the oceans.

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