Residents take in Azorean regatta, hospitality

Oct 4, 2022

Thirty Dartmouth residents recently traveled to the Azores to take part in cultural exchanges and spectate a nearly 20-year-old tradition shared between the islands and the South Coast.

That tradition? The 11th International Azorean Whaleboat Regatta, which was first held in Clark’s Cove in Dartmouth in 2004.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” said Nancy Jordan, one of the visitors to the islands.

The regatta, which occurred in mid-September this year, pays homage to the rich whaling history shared between the United States and the Azores through the use of authentic Azorean whaling boats.

Since that first event in ‘04, the regatta alternates between the South Coast and the Portuguese archipelago every other year.

Jordan noted that prior to the regatta, the master ship builder from the island of Pico came to the Dartmouth area to make some repairs on the U.S. boats to make sure they were ready come race time. 

During the three days of racing, men’s and women’s crews from the U.S. and the Azorean islands of Faial and Pico compete in both rowing and sailing. 

Even with the repairs, the U.S. team did not fare so well.

“We came in third,” Jordan said with a slight sigh.

Still, she said, the rest of the time spent on the islands was absolutely wonderful.

Along with the races, residents and sailors took in a week full of cultural presentations, social events, lectures, cultural performances, and exhibitions. 

“We went to every whaling museum they had there,” Jordan said.

Another notable stop included a tour of volcanic caves in Pico.

“You could see where the lava once went down,” Jordan said. “We had to wear these helmets and duck down. At one point the leader told us to shut our lights off and it was so pitch black down there, you couldn’t see anything.”

But perhaps the biggest highlight, Jordan said, was taking part of the Azorean hospitality — especially when it came to sharing local cuisine

“They fed us royally,” Jordan said, adding that many Dartmouth residents stayed with relatives on the islands.

Though the regatta is now over, preparation is now underway for its return to Clark’s Cove, which Jordan said is scheduled for next year.