Football is almost a religion in Split, but this is also a sailing capital. Just check out the current ISAF world ranking, with Ivan Kljaković Gašpić second in Finn and Tonči Stipanović third in laser.
Or, to check it first hand, come this Saturday to marina of YC Labud, and join the oldest and biggest regatta in Croatia. Yes, it's time for the 84th Regatta of Mrduja!
As it is usual every last Saturday in September, about 300 sailing boats of all sizes will gather in and in front of the Split city port. Some of them will have real professional crews, some will sail just for fun, but all of them are equal part of the true celebration of sailing.
This regatta had been organized by YC Labud since 1927. Race was named after the small, barely noticeable islet called Mrduja between islands of Brač and Šolta, only 11 miles from Split harbour. Anyone travelling by ferry to Hvar, Korčula or Vis can see that small rock, right in the middle of Splitska vrata.
Story about this race began with sailing enthusiast and member of one of the most prominent Split noble families count Toni Pavlović. When he launched this regatta it was quite an extravaganza in 1920s Split of 30,000 people. Seven boats showed up on a starting line, and first winner was count Toni himself, sailing on board his Magima. Award was spectacular, a razor with original Gillette razors.
Decade by decade, Mrduje has grown into a 300 plus boats regatta. Only Trieste's Barcolana is bigger in the Adriatic.
One of the things that make this race so great is that really anyone with basic sailing skills can participate on its 22 miles long route. All you need is a boat, bunch of friends, some food and wine, and wind. Here is this weekend's forecast.
Of course, winning is important, but in case of Mrduja, it doesn't necessarily mean winning in race. Just pick someone and sail your own "little Mrduja" against him or her. It can be a relative, friend, neighbour, or even someone you don't know. It's just another part of Split's spirit. So, come this Saturday on city's shores. Even if you don't sail, watch it from Sustipan or from ACI Marina.
You want to participate? Check it here. Unfortunately, it's only in Croatian.