Xabier Agote


Pasaia celebrates maritime heritage

Xabier Agote
Director de Pasaia Festival MarĂ­timo

Twenty years ago the Local Development Agency Oarsoaldea and the association Albaola joined together for a common project; the aim was to highlight the history and maritime heritage of Pasaia by the building and sailing of traditional boats. It was a hopeful start in a challenging context, mainly due to the lack of nearby references. At that time the very concept of maritime heritage was alien to people, and the level of common knowledge about Basque maritime history was appallingly low. So it was an enormous challenge.

However, the effort made by Pasaia has been relentless. The beginnings were discreet, with the opening of a small but quaint boatbuilding workshop; it was open to the public, so visitors could see boats from different times being built, thus having a chance to discover the secrets of Basque maritime technology. It also was a way of recovering an extint heritage. But the activity wasn’t limited to the workshop; unlikely sailing outings started to happen, with the participation of many crewmembers that, in many cases, have never sailed before. As these people learned how to row and sail a boat they were also discovering the extraordinary history in which boats of that type had been involved.

Years came and went and the project grew; partners, sponsors, the media and public institutions contributed to develop many projects that helped making Pasaia into a Port of Maritime Heritage. Pasaia aspires to be worth its maritime history; throughout centuries its people endeavoured exceptional, epic maritime feats. Their ships linked oceans and cultures and, as it happens today, the waters of Pasaia hosted visiting ships from all over the world.

Because of all of this, Pasaia wants to celebrate its past and its present. As in the first edition in 2018, Pasaia will greet traditional boats of heritage value and their crews; boats that will reveal to everybody the cultural diversity of the sea, its history and its legends. We want their sails to fill under the gentle breeze of the port, captivating the public and suggesting how important the sea has been for all of us. It’s time to celebrate that shared heritage, and how better than by taking part on the Maritime Festival of Pasaia!