A few days after the Enthronement Ceremony the Confraria de Vinho do Porto had their traditionally regatta in the Douro. The old Barcos Rabelos – the boats that used to sail the port pipes down to Vila Nova de Gaia from the Quintas in the Douro – were sailing from the mouth of the river to the finish line in front of the port lodges.
16 boats were participating this year. I was lucky to get invited by Ramos Pinto to be on board of Confrarias boat that followed the Rabelos during the race. Soon the Rabelos of Cockburn, Cálem, Offley and Taylor were in the lead, but at the goal “Quinta dos Canais” from Cockburn with Mestre Luís Martins as the captain was a clear winner, followed by “Quinta do Foz” from Sogevinus and Infanta D. Isabel from Rozès.
The winner, “Quinta dos Canais” from Cockburn
But as David Guimaraens from Fladgate explained me the regatta is more fun than a serious race. The same point was made by George Thomas David Sandeman, who after the regatta, where the boat from Sandeman fished last, said with a big smile: “Everyone can win, but it takes more effort to finish last. And remember, that it is told in the Bible that the last will be the first”.
Yes, it is a funny event. And it sure is a beautiful sight when the Rabelos are coming up the Douro with their sail raised. And I must admit that it was lovely to spend the afternoon at Confrarias boat with good serving and port tonics.
Ramos Pinto, who invited me on board, doesn’t have a boat in the race themselves. And as João Machete Pereira explained to me, it is too expensive to buy a new Barco Rabelo just for that event.
On board of Confrarias boat together with the
Fiel das Usancas of the Chanceleiro,
Manuel Maria Matos de Magalhães Ferreira.