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Racing trainera


Basque fishermen turned their work into a sport. For centuries, crews have pitted their oarsmanship against each other. Although the coming of steam put an end to the fishing trainera, it continued to be used for racing. Initially the racing trainera was no different to its predecessor, but as it was freed from the restrictions of fishing and sail it rapidly began to evolve. It still continues to have the same characteristic outline and a length of 12 metres; however, although the beam remains the same, the cross-section has been stylised to the limit of stability and the weight has been reduced from approximately 800 kg to 200 kg at present, as determined by the race regulations. From the 1960s on, the traditional timber construction was replaced by carbon fibre.

Bixente Elizondo, Ortzaikako bere lantegian, trainerilla
bat egiten. Estropadetarako Fishing trainerak zurez egin
zituzten laurogeita hamarreko lehen urteak arte. Emaitza
bikainak eskaini arren, epe erabilgarria hiru bat urtekoa
zen goi mailako lehiaketetan, erregelamenduak ezarritako
gehiegizko arintasunagatik, ezen gutxieneko
pisua berrehun kilokoa izaki, tripulazioaren
beraren pisuaren bosten
bat besterik ez da
hori.
Bixente Elizondo at his workshop in Ortzaika, building a trainerilla. The racing traineras were made in timber until the early 1990s. Despite giving excellent results, they had a service life of just three years in competition conditions due to the extreme lightness imposed by the regulations, which set the minimum weight at two hundred kilos, approximately five times less than the weight of the crew themselves. © José Lopez
Arrantzako
Fishing trainera, bere
zuaker-egituraren
zati bat agerian duena.
Fishing trainera with part of the rib structure exposed to view. © José Lopez

Trainera from Elantxobe. Traditional Basque rowing is a demanding
sport. Traineras are very sophisticated vessels, and the crews are
very fit. The classic racing course on the open sea is three nautical
miles in length, a distance that the traineras cover in some-what under
twenty minutes, maintaining an average speed of around nine
knots and reaching spot speeds of up to twelve knots at the start.
Trainera from Elantxobe. Traditional Basque rowing is a demanding sport. Traineras are very sophisticated vessels, and the crews are very fit. The classic racing course on the open sea is three nautical miles in length, a distance that the traineras cover in some-what under twenty minutes, maintaining an average speed of around nine knots and reaching spot speeds of up to twelve knots at the start. © José Lopez

Wooden traineras have been supplanted by carbon fibre
boats. The advantage lies not so much in the reduced weight of the
material as in the fact that the boats have greater structural rigidity
than wood, considerably extending their service life.
Wooden traineras have been supplanted by carbon fibre boats. The advantage lies not so much in the reduced weight of the material as in the fact that the boats have greater structural rigidity than wood, considerably extending their service life. © José Lopez

Bow of a carbon fibre trainera (Sanpedrotarra from Pasaia).
Bow of a carbon fibre trainera (Sanpedrotarra from Pasaia). © José Lopez
Oil painting by Manuel Losada, depicting a trainera race in the
estuary of the Gernika estuary, with fishing traineras participating,
at a time when the crew was exclusively made up of fishermen.
© photograph: Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa.
Oil painting by Manuel Losada, depicting a trainera race in the estuary of the Gernika estuary, with fishing traineras participating, at a time when the crew was exclusively made up of fishermen. © photograph: Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa.

Line drawing of a trainera from 1935, by Clemente Goldaracena.
Developments in the design of the racing trainera have centred on the cross-section or ribs. One can see the great contrast between the shape of the nineteenth-century fishing trainera and today's racing trainera. © José Lopez

Developments in the design of the racing trainera have centred on the cross-section or ribs. One can see the great contrast between the shape of the nineteenth-century fishing trainera and today's racing trainera. © José Lopez

Carbon-fibre trainera built at the Amilibia shipyards in Orio.
The results obtained by the new carbon fibre traineras meant that
they were soon introduced more widely. Amilibia’s traineras emergedas
being better than others. They used full shapes above the
waterline, and to some extent were reminiscent of the old fishing
vessels. At the same time, the longevity of the modern traineras and
the impossibility of changing the mould used in their construction
has slowed down any evolution in design.
Carbon-fibre trainera built at the Amilibia shipyards in Orio. The results obtained by the new carbon fibre traineras meant that they were soon introduced more widely. Amilibia’s traineras emergedas being better than others. They used full shapes above the waterline, and to some extent were reminiscent of the old fishing vessels. At the same time, the longevity of the modern traineras and the impossibility of changing the mould used in their construction has slowed down any evolution in design. © José Lopez

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