Regatta on the Saaler Bodden

The annual Wustrow Zeesboot Regatta in early July is a sailing competition for traditional wooden fishing boats on the Saaler Bodden. 

During the morning hours, a large number of restored wooden sailboats gather in the harbour with their characteristic brown sails swaying impatiently in the breeze. The regatta starts at noon and during the next several hours the sailboats are underway across the lagoon. Meanwhile there is plenty to do on land; on the grounds around the harbour there are market stands, music performances and children's activities.

Three classes of boats compete in the regatta. Hull length determines whether the sailboats are classified as large, medium and small. After the awards ceremony on the grounds of the Godewind sailing club, the party continues at the wind-protected harbour.

What makes these beautiful old wooden boats so special? Is it the unusual colour of their sails? Their excellent handling? Or their traditional design? For many centuries, zeesenboote were a defining characteristic of the Fischland peninsula. The first zeesenboote date back to the 15th century and their fishing tradition continued until the 1980s when bottom trawling was discontinued.

Traditionally, the cotton sails were impregnated with red earth pigment, wood tar, cod liver oil and a lye from oak bark and beef tallow to protect the fabric from the elements. Zeesenboot hulls are made of oak or larch, with a clinker-built or carvel-built shell. The use of sloop and ketch rigging has stayed the same for centuries.

Whether gathered in Fischland Harbour or racing across the Saaler Bodden, the congregation of such a large number of traditional sailboats is truly an impressive sight.

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