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Kapetaneika on the Greek Island of Paros

Paros reminds me of my first trip since it was the destination we had chosen in high school to go to for a three-day school trip. It is a Cycladic island with the architecture of white houses with blue small windows, which would make any stone sunken in the sea look prettier. It has two large settlements, Paros and Naoussa. In the latter, friendly sailing races with wooden boats have taken place in recent years, called "Kapetaneika". It is an opportunity for sports enthusiasts to meet, but also a kind of "protest" for the destruction of wooden boats in recent years by European directives. That trip was in collaboration with Blue Star Ferries.

View of Paros island by photographer George Tatakis
View of Paros island

Photographing Kapetaneika sailboat race on the Greek island of Paros.

On the first day, when I arrived at the island of Paros in the afternoon, I had the time to settle in my room and go to the Marina of Naoussa to meet the contestants and see the sailboats. That's where I met the organizers, I explained to them what I was doing, and agreed on how I would move about on the next day during the Kapetaneika race. A small speedboat would be at my disposal and would be able to move me along the boats or at various points that would be useful for me to take pictures from. From the very beginning, I was intrigued by a vessel whose crew was dressed in traditional outfits and I thought that I would prefer to be in this boat. So I hoped the next day I would find the way. In the afternoon I walked through the beautiful roads of Naoussa. There are so many nice places for food and drink, and I even thought that you could hardly find other places in the world along the seasides as edgy and decorated with such good taste. At least of the places, I have visited so far. Of all this, as I usually do, I was interested in a gentleman who sat on his front porch in one of the central squares. I went near and met him. His name was Yiorgos Zoumis and his origin was from the island. We have briefly caught a conversation about life on the island, but also about how it has changed over time. Yiorgos invited me to his house and so I had the chance to see one of the traditional houses on the island.

Yorgos Zoumis at his house, by photographer George Tatakis
Yorgos Zoumis at his house in Naoussa, Paros island

The following morning I was at the Marina of Naoussa, Paros early to organize my moves. I found the speedboat that could move me between the boats during the Kapetaneika, but I had in mind to find the crew that was dressed in the outfit of their island. I learned that this vessel comes from Spetses and its name, Aghios Yiorgis. The crew at that time were preparing for the trip and were buying supplies for the race, mainly water. The race would end up at the famous beach of Kolimbithres, where all participants could enjoy a swim, before returning to the Marina of Naoussa. So I found the crew at the local grocery store while buying bottles of water and I met them saying that I would like to be with them in their boat to photograph them. They happily obliged and so I secured my ticket for Aghios Yiorgis. The race soon began and so I found myself floating for the first time aboard a sailboat.

On board Aghios Yorgis, by photographer George Tatakis
On board Aghios Yorgis

Aghios Yiorgis went fast enough and was one of the fastest boats in the race. Compared to its size, it seemed to me, at least, the fastest. The reality is, however, that I did not understand the rules of the game and the actual course of the ships. The sea flooded with wooden boats and was a unique sight. Observers were packed where they could around the rocks and pillars and many of them had brought binoculars along to be able to see better. I was very lucky to have boarded the boat that interested me from the start.

A small sailboat soaring the sea, by photographer George Tatakis
A small sailboat soaring the sea

At some point, the crew wanted to take full advantage of the wind to take the lead. I've heard something about a butterfly and I saw one of the crew making a signal with his hands, which looked like a butterfly. I did not understand a thing. The answer, of course, did not come late. Suddenly everyone started to work fast and open the sails. I soon realized what this butterfly was like. The two large sails opened wide, counter-diametrically and suddenly the whole sailboat began to look like a giant white butterfly, hovering in the seawater. The factor that highlighted this likeness was that, like a sailboat, the cruise was silent, which made my experience, being my first one on a sailing boat, totally unworldly.

Signalling with hands for the butterfly formation, by photographer George Tatakis
Signalling with hands for the butterfly formation

Finally, we sailed to the beach, which was the finish, after we lowered the sails and slowly slowed down. We dropped anchor and the swimming started. The sun was torching our skin and I cursed for not having thought to take my swimsuit along. After about an hour we returned slowly to the marina and so the race was over. Later on, a feast followed with a lot of food and drink of course, as every manifestation of social beings, like people, should end. Will meet again in a year, for the next Kapetaneika Paros.

On board Aghios Georgios, by photographer George Tatakis
On board Aghios Georgios

Love xx



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