Before I try to answer this question I have to say that this year at the Adriatic summer never started in the first place. At least not the summer we are all used to – calm mornings, summer breeze starting at noon and dying at the sunset, high temperatures and clear skies… All of us who sailed the Adriatic this summer have spent a great deal of time checking out meteo-alarms, gale warnings and thunderstorm trackers…
Summer season is officially reserved for the period between June 21st and September 23rd and as kids we all loved it because it was the longest season and there was no school… However, I have heard recently that it is the so called the calendar summer; what we are really looking for is the climatologically determined summer which is not specified by dates but by meteorological statistics.
People from Dalmatia, members of generations of our grandparents and older; would say that summer ends on August 16th, the day of st. Roch, medieval saint who was (and still is) the protector from black plague, leprosy and cholera; beloved all over Croatia, especially the coast and the islands.
On the other hand, I grew up with a generation which used to determine the summer according to the first and last swim of the year. That methodology was applied until I accidentally fell overboard during the Winter cup regatta in Šibenik in late November 2007, due to skipper’s maneuver which still remained unexplained… The exception of this methodology would be midnight New Year’s match of picigin when our last swim of the year became the first one – after midnight.
Picigin is a Croatian national beach game invented in Split, played by multiple players with a small ball in the shallow water of sandy beaches. The goal is to keep the ball out of the water as long as possible, passing it to other players, making spectacular tricks at the same time. Let’s leave picigin for some other post at this point and get back to summer issue because there are people in Split who play it every day in the year…
Regardless of the end of summer determined by either calendar, climatologic or swimming season, sailors and sailing lovers in Split celebrate it by organizing a grand regatta. It is Mrduja – the oldest and the greatest regatta on the Croatian part of the Adriatic. Regatta Mrduja is taking place this year for 83rd time on traditional racecourse between Split and the islet Mrduja, located between islands Brač and Šolta. Regatta Mrduja attracts more and more fine teams and fast boats as well as numerous enthusiasts who are here not to compete but to celebrate sailing and the end of summer season.
Local sailors consider this regatta a family tradition and obligation rather than a competition so it is not a surprise if you smell all types of local specialties on the racecourse. Many times the meal you have prepared during the regatta is more important than the result at the finish line. The regatta traditionally takes place on the first weekend in October, two weeks before the famous Barcolana in Trieste.
For some reason, this year’s edition of Mrduja is taking place on Saturday, September 27th and you can register online. I could write a lot more about this celebration of sailing tradition, organized by the oldest sailing club JD Labud from Split which celebrates its 90th anniversary, but it would turn this blog post into a book. May the clip dedicated to Mrduja regatta be an invitation to this year’s celebration of the end of the summer.
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!