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Beringia at the oars

How the Chukchi seamans experience their strength and leather canoes

Struggle against the powerful and cold waves of the Bering Strait among the inhabitants of Chukotka in the blood. In order to survive and get some of the marine inhabitants, they went on a rally team on a modest leather boat. They had to overcome the force of currents, strong wind and cold. This ancient occupation is still alive. Every year in Chukotka, regattas are organized in canoes, but not for food, but for sporting interest and for tribute to ancestors.

Beringia at the oars
Photo: Department of Sports and Tourism of Chukotka

Photo by Maxim Antipin.jpg

The idea of ​​conducting competitions on races on leather baidaras appeared in 1991 year for the revival of national sports. Now this is a great cultural and sports festival, which is also organized for the development of event tourism in Chukotka. It is called "Beringia", also called the popular dog sled race, which takes place in Kamchatka, although these events have nothing in common. It was simply Beringia who called the region and the paleogeographical country, which once linked north-east Asia and the north-west of North America. Its territory also passed along the part of modern Chukotka.

- "Beringia" is a great holiday for the residents of the Okrug and especially for sea hunters, who are eager to measure their strength, skill and skill in making canoes with teams from other villages. Together with the hunters for this event, their wives and children began to come, who also take part in various sports. Within the framework of "Beringia" there are races on canoes among men's, women's and youth teams, single-kayak races, as well as competitions in national sports, "said Pavel Dyachkov, deputy head of the Sports and Tourism Department of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport of the Chukotka Autonomous District.


The first regatta on leather baidaras "Beringia" took place in July 1992 and was held in the village of Uelen. The distance of the race was from Ratmanov Island to Uelen. In that year only two of the kayaks - from Lorino and Uelen - came to the start. Despite the minimum number of participants, this race has become legendary - its route stretches for 60 km. Before the Ratmanov baidaras and participants were delivered by a warship. After that, they made an impressive way to the final point on their own.

Now the race is held at more modest distances and in different villages. At the beginning of the revival, the Beringia did this to attract new participants. The hosts of the competitions began to prepare for them, recalled the technology of manufacturing the baidar, proceeded to trainings. In different years the race was held in the villages of Laurence, Lorino, Uelen, Novoe Chaplino, Inchoun.


It was from the time of the "Beringia" in Chukotka began to revive the construction of baidar. From kayaks they are significantly different. The skeleton of a kayak is made of wood, and then it is wrapped with a walrus-skinned hide and strapped with sea-hare skin straps or ropes. The design provides for and installation of the mast.

Due to the elasticity of the hull, the ship is very stable, which is why before the kayaks were the main mode of transport for hunting sea animals. Now small canoes are widely used in winter hunting, when it is necessary to move through polynyas or at the ice edge.


The number of participants of races is multiplied. The only obstacle to participating in competitions and their conduct can be bad weather. The team consists of three pairs of rowers and the helmsman, which sets the direction and pace of rowing. And if before the race was strictly a man's business, then from 1999 year they are attended by women and teenagers. For many, participation in the "Beringia" is also an opportunity to earn - the prize fund of the competitions in the baidark races is almost two million rubles.

- The race attracted special interest when it was included in the program of the Cup for the Governor of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. Competitions began to take place with even greater interest and exciting struggle, more began to take part of residents from other even remote villages and municipalities. Now, to transport participants, and there are more than 100-120 people, organize a passenger flight, except for this, territorially neighboring communities of male hunters transport participants on their small boats to the venue and back, "said Pavel Dyachkov.


Photo courtesy of the Sports and Tourism Department of Chukotka (4) .jpg

The first owner of the Governor's Cup was the team of Alexei Otto from Lorino. Until now, hunters from this village are the strongest. They are trained under the guidance of their fathers - experienced hunters. Every year, rivals try to get around them and plan to train in their free time.

The program included various types of competitions for people of all ages: races in ordinary canoes and single-bird baidaras, whaleboats on oars and on motors. Following their husbands, the wives and children of hunters took part in the baidar races. The novelty of last year were family races - parents and children acted as one team.


Photo courtesy of the Sports and Tourism Department of Chukotka (6) .JPG

In total, the event program includes up to 16 types of competitions. About 400 people take part in them. Spectators will not be able to get bored, even if the race is no longer visible from the shore, you can watch the running with a stick, Eskimo jumps or throwing a harpoon, throwing away or chatting. In 2011, within the framework of Beringia, a mass athletics race was held along the Lorino - Lavrentiya route. Residents of these villages took part in it. They were joined by Leonid Fazylov from Anadyr and Italian Paolo Vinturini.

- This year from 21 on 22 July in the village of Novoe Chaplino 26-regatta has already passed. The rowers from Lorino, Lavrentia, Novy Chaplino, and Providence took part in it. As part of the regatta, the Second International Youth Sports Festival of Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic "Beringian Games - 2018" was held. Due to bad weather conditions, delegations from Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Alaska, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, and the United States could not take part in this period. More than 40 people waited for three days to improve the weather conditions of the delegation in Alaska in Nome and in Anadyr, - said Pavel Dyachkov.

Every year, in the regatta "Beringia" folklore festivals are held with the participation of groups, including children from the villages of Lavrentia, Lorino, Uelena, New Chaplin, Providence, Anadyr, Egvekinot, and in order to create a truly festive atmosphere, , the fair of decorative and applied carving and bone carving, hold competitions of masters for the best performance of national dance, throat singing, songs and tongue twisters in their native language. For women, contests of national clothes and competition for the title of the best mistress of the fire.

The photos were provided by the Sports and Tourism Department of the Chukotka Autonomous District
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