HAUGESUND: 17th of May celebrations can include some unique local traditions around Norway. In the West Coast city of Haugesund, not far from the historic Viking settlement at Avaldnes on Karmøy, rowing is a big part of the program.
“Competitive rowing on Smedasundet (the sound through Haugesund’s downtown area) is Haugesund’s oldest tradition,” proclaims the city’s own website, in an article attributed to the foundation that’s upheld it since 1888. Known as kapproing, it was marking its 130th anniversary this year, with early morning rowing races despite strong winds and chilly temperatures.
The foundation (Stiftelsen Indre Kai) challenges local residents to maintain “this fun and important tradition” by simply taking part. Around a dozen teams sign up every year, with a women’s wine-tasting club among the contestants this year. The foundation was delighted when a youth group took part in 2016.
The displays of rowing provide “good entertainment for the public and the participants, and help preserve coastal life and coastal culture in Haugesund,” wrote Idar Pedersen on the website for Haugesund Kommune.
Several teams were out competing in freshly painted and colourful boats Thursday morning, accompanied by live commentary and festively clad spectators on the pier. Awards were handed out later in the day in various categories.
“It wouldn’t be a proper 17th of May in Haugesund without rowing on the program,” wrote Pedersen. The event also inspired a poem written by local resident Bertel Svensen and first published in local newspaper Hagesunds Avis in 2001, which claimed the rowers “build bridges between sea and land” and contribute to even more festivity “in our lively maritime city.”