The 24th of June is the Festival of São João and a public holiday in Porto. It is also the day for the famous boat race between the Port shippers. The team at Graham’s is prepared, and looking forward to this year’s race.
The classic holiday photo or postcard for any visitor to Porto is a view of the riverfront of Gaia, with the barcos rabelos at anchor along the shoreline. The boats you see today are replicas of the boats that used to bring the port downriver from the quintas to the lodges every spring.
Preparations began on a sunny day in March when we took the sail out of storage and spread it out in the garden behind the office for an airing and review. We decided the salt air and sun had done quite a lot of damage over the past few years, so we will have a new sail this year. We have also just repainted our boat, and as you can see in the photo above we have covered the casks with canvas to protect them from the seagulls who like to perch there.
Paul Symington will be on board the Graham’s boat himself this year, together with a crew drawn from our staff in Gaia.
This year’s race will start around 17:30 in order to catch the tide going upriver, and all being well, we should reach the finish line, near the Dom Luis I bridge, around 18:30 (ahead of everyone else, of course!).
Will you be in Porto on the 24th? Please come out to cheer us on! Best viewing is from the upper deck of the Dom Luis bridge, or along the shoreline in Gaia. If you can’t be in Porto, watch Graham’s Facebook page and the Blog for our report on the race (and you can read about last year’s race here if you like).
Please note: the Graham’s Lodge will be closed on Friday 24th for the holiday, but please come visit us another day!