History of Community Races and Rowing
Rowing races and local regattas were once a part of summer recreational activities in many coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador. For at least one day during the summer fishery various boats and fishing crews participated in a day of sport and enjoyment as they raced against neighbours and family members.
The races took place in harbours, coves and bays and attracted entire communities to follow the events and cheer on their men. While these informal summer celebrations provided a break from the long days of work during the fishing season they also demonstrated the incredible strength, remarkable skills and competitive nature of these hardy participants.
These coastal rowing races can be traced as far back as the mid-nineteenth century in Newfoundland and even further in Ireland, the United Kingdom and many European countries. Rowing was a means of survival and earning a living. In some countries crews often raced for the best fishing grounds and boats raced out to meet schooners with the winners receiving valuable piloting or tendering contracts. On special occasions these same crews raced for sport.
The Great Fogo Island Punt Race is an annual summer program of friendly competition and enjoyment for people of all ages. Events will be organized for all levels of competitors from the novices to the experienced rowers. It will feature the traditional punts of the region and help develop a renewed pride in our wooden boat culture and heritage.