’Semaine du Golfe’ salutes Lowlands classics
In May, the Netherlands is the guest of honor at “La Semaine du Golfe” _ a week of partying on, around and by 1,000 classic and traditional boats from across Europe in Brittany’s awesome Morbihan Bay. The designation is a tip of the French hat to the growing enthusiasm in the Netherlands to preserve traditional yachts and yachting.
Organizers initially asked if the Dutch could manage to send at 20 participants to its 2013 fest. No problem! “In 2011, we were at Morbihan with 6 boats,” says Jan te Siepe, president the Traditional Ship Promotion Foundation. “We expect to send about 40 boats in 2013.”
In recent years, Dutch classic vessels have made appearances in the US (in 2009, marking the 400th anniversary of the exploration of the Hudson River) and at the 2007 Wooden Boat Show in Hobart, Tasmania. The traditional Lowlands boats at Morbihan this year will represent regions in the Netherlands as well as Belgian and French Flanders
Traditional boating could not wish for a more spectacular backdrop than Morbihan Bay. Nor could spectators. The name in Breton means “little sea.” It is a wide island-specked bay linked to the ocean by a channel. The Morbihan Week always coincides with the Ascension holiday week. In 2013: May 6-12.
Sailing boats from France’s Atlantic coast dominate the event. But over the years, Morbihan has attracted traditional craft from the Mediterranean, Cornwall and North Sea nations. This year up to 4,000 sailors are expected in craft divided into 8 flotillas, including gigs and sail-and-oar boats, classic yachts, old fishing and working boats as well as 30 Tall Ships. Each day, the flotillas run their own program of trips and stops, visiting 15 or so ports along the bay shore. The center of activities is the port and city of Vannes . The week ends with a parade for all vessels. Shore activities include music _ from brass to jazz to Celtic _ local dances and fireworks. And _ Hey, this is France! _ food, of course. Come hungry! Brittany is known for delicious seafood, Breton pancakes and ciders.