17 May, 2021

Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba

The Radio Station of your Heart from Matanzas, Cuba

Varadero Regattas: 109 years of history.

The national rowing regattas for the Copa 26th of July had its version 109 in the Laguna de Paso Malo, in Varadero, with the assistance of vessels of Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus and Matanzas, which managed to maintain these traditional competitions of which this beach was scene from its beginnings.

Without the brightness of other occasions in participation and emotion, according to the report of Rafael Menéndez Arias, inspired by the conquest of the first place in the recent School and Youth Games, something that had not happened for a decade, the representatives of Matanzas in the category when they were older, they managed to graduate in boats of eight with helmsman, while those of Cienfuegos won in single for ladies and men, and Sancti Spiritus imposed his class on the heavy single.

The glories of the sport Arnaldo Rodríguez Silva and the one who is considered the best Cuban rower of all time, Ángel Fournier, attended the event as guests. On this occasion the event was dedicated to the finishes Roberto ‘Waco’ Ojeda, Santiago Cuesta and Mario Tabío, members of national teams of this sport on several occasions.

The first official rowing regatta held in Cuba took place on July 31st, 1910 in the beautiful Matanzas beach of Varadero.

In hat day two six-seater boats with helmsman competed at a distance of 1,200 meters, built for the occasion in Cárdenas and Matanzas shipyards.

These boats were called Halley, for the comet that would pass next to Earth the following year and Varadero, in honor of the already recognized place.

This first confrontation, of local character, was won by Varadero, with time of seven minutes and 24 seconds, composed of: Alejandro Neyra Gou, Ismael Veulens Cabo, Humberto de Cárdenas Gou, Julio Castro Asunsolo, Maximiliano Smith Mora, Octavio Verdejar Neyra and Leonardo Sórzano Jorrín, as helmsman.

In the Halley boat they paddled: Raúl Castro Asunsolo, Rafael Reynaldo Gutiérrez, Miguel Reynaldo Gutiérrez, Enrique Vila Ordoqui, Mario Verdejar Neyra, Pedro Lluriá García and the helmsman Julio Lluriá García.

Due to the enthusiasm left by this regatta, the Varadero Yacht Club, founded a year earlier, convened the first national event of six long paddles with a helmsman and a distance of 1,200 meters, attended by the Vedado Tennis Club, of the capital. This competition took place on August 29th, just 29 days from the previous one and the Varadero boat obtained first place with time of seven minutes and 25 seconds.

From a small and almost familiar competition, devised by young people from the municipality of Cárdenas, these remote events became great sporting and social events to the point that in 1918 the National Congress instituted the Cuba-President Cup of the Republic, of a rotating nature, for the teams or provinces that will win every season the races of the so-called Playa Azul.

Year after year, the governors on duty delivered the aforementioned Cup and this tradition was maintained even after 1959, when President Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado and later the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, participated in some of these ceremonies.

Of the few times he could not award the President Cup, the president of the Republic stands out on July 26th, 1953, since Fulgencio Batista had to leave the spa when he received the warning that a group of young people assaulted the Guillermón Moncada barracks, from Santiago de Cuba, and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, from Bayamo, in the then province of Oriente.

The popularity of these regattas was so popular that many of those revolutionary fighters to avoid suspicion had told their family and friends that they would be in Varadero that day.