The island of Korčula is traditionally orientated to agriculture and fishing. An important part of fishing is rowing. Therefore, this region has produced many excellent oarsmen; most popular of them is probably Perica Vlasic-Patrun. He could row for an unbelievable 58 strokes per minute. This skill brought him the world title in skiff and he was introduced to the English Queen in 1953.
More than 100 years ago it was decided that our excellent oarsmen would show their skills and compete against each others. The race is held every year on the 24th of June from the Gradina bay to the centre of Vela Luka (4.5 KM). The events start in Gradina Bay, with “Mafrina” present some old dances. Then Mass is held in the Chapel of St John. An important part of the mass is the blessing of various herbs and grasses, which grow on the island, and which have aromatic and healing properties. There are more than 30 edible grasses and herbs which the local inhabitants use FOR cooking. On the feast of St John, various teams from Vela Luka – men, women and children take part. The boats are decorated with bouquets of flowers which are placed on the bow and the stern. Every team wears a special uniform.
After the Mass there is a race, featuring many teams, with their decorated boats, finishing in Vela Luka. Their arrival is celebrated by the locals and tourists with music and festivities.
The most important race was against the crew of the British war ship HMS CERES in 1933. In 2007. Regatta was repeated with British army SHIP “CORNWELL”.
This festival takes place on the Feast of St John, 24th June, which also celebrates the beginning of the summer season.