In the past, the traditional Neretva boat played a key traffic-economic role for people of the region. For centuries it has been the main means of transportation, and each year, an amateur race of these boats takes place. Participants race with boats down the Neretva River, from Metkovic, starting from the town bridge, all the way down to Ploče 22.5 kilometers away. There are about 40 teams and seven hundred rowers participating in the race and giving the best of themselves. But, although it is a matter of prestige, victory in this race is not the most important. The main factors are the courage and the desire to uphold the tradition, to remember the lives and efforts of our ancestors. To preserve the traditions of the old Lađa, the 22.5 kilometer rowing race from Metković to Ploče was introduced for the first time in 1998.
Competing Lađa’s must meet certain requirements. Apart from being wooden, they must be between 7 and 8.2 meters in length, between 2.45 and 2.8 meters wide, 70cm deep, with 23 spokes or wooden rods. The oars must also be made of wood. Each rowing crew consists of 10 rowers, a drummer and a cox, or oarsmen. There can be a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 18 persons in each squad. Anyone who is willing may form part of the crew: men, women, children.
On Thursday, the women’s race took place with Udruga Lađarica Komin winning in a time of 56-26. In second place were Udruga Sparte Bjelovar with Udruga Lađarica Metkovke Metkovic coming third.
The winners tomorrow will finish the race in just over 2 hours. If you are in the area this Saturday the men’s Maraton lađa race will start at 17:00 with a big crowd again expected.