ZAGREB, Aug 8 (Hina) – The 23rd Neretva Boat Marathon Lađa took place in Metković on Saturday afternoon with 35 crews participating in the 22.5 km race down the Neretva River from Metković southwards to Ploče.
Due to coronavirus epidemiological measures, this year’s amateur race was held without a crowd and accompanying events in Metković and Ploče.
President Zoran Milanović, who signalled the start, was watching the race from a separate boat and presented the winners with the trophy. This year’s race took place under his auspices.
Milanovic was joined by Agriculture Minister Marija Vucković as Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s envoy and MP Branko Bačić as Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković’s envoy.
This year was the first time there were two winners with Lađari Zagreb, a group of students based in the Croatian capital, and Lađari Stablina sharing first place. In third place were Lađari Sveti Ilija Metković.
Maraton lađa is a rowing race in traditional vessels, known as lađa, which are native to the Lower Neretva River which flows through Croatia. Lađa were used by the old Neretva pirates, who terrorised the area back in the 10th century.
Because of their narrow size, Lađa were able to enter every one of the rivers that flowed into the Neretva as well as the Neretva River itself. It can be said that the lađa to the Neretva represents the same significance as the gondola does to Venice.
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.
The start of the race is in Metković under the main bridge. The course runs along the Neretva to the harbour in Ploce. Approximately at the halfway mark, in the town of Opuzen, an interchange of up to six crew members is permitted (although it is not compulsory to change). The race continues further down the river through the small village of Komin, through the narrow Black River and onto the final destination in Ploce.