Malta’s 450 year-long history of rowing
It has been a staggering 450 years since rowing was first recorded as taking place in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. The country has a strong bond to the sea and rowing and the sport’s long history was recently acknowledged in the most appropriate way – with a regatta.
The anniversary was recognised this year at the National Regatta on Malta’s Grand Harbour. The regatta had seven local rowing clubs participating in races that used traditional fixed seat boats. In most of the races the traditional way of a combination of seated and standing rowers, rowing on the same boat, was practiced.
According to Malta Rowing Federation President Joseph Grima, records suggest that a regatta was held in the same place 450 years earlier. At that time the regatta was to commemorate the first anniversary of the victory over the Ottoman Turks in the Great Siege of Malta. It was also when building works began for the new city that was later named Valletta.
“A public notice announcing this regatta was recently discovered in the Notarial Archives in Valletta by local historian Emmanuel Magro Conti,” says Grima.
Grima is keen to promote rowing in Malta. It became a member federation of FISA, the World Rowing Federation in 2015, and Grima says the island nation is currently undergoing a phase of rapid growth in rowing with the setting up of new rowing clubs and new regattas and indoor rowing championships. Malta, says Grima, will also soon be seeing their first sliding-seat boats which have been acquired by the University of Malta Rowing Club with the support of FISA. Rowers have also started to experience the excitement of taking part in international rowing competitions.
Already Maltese rowers Romario Brignone and Maximilian Mamp have trained in Germany, adapting quickly from traditional Maltese rowing to Olympic-style sculling and sweep rowing. The duo then competed in Germany’s Ratzeburg Regatta.