What a grand spectacle. What a majestic sight, all those beautiful sailing ships fully rigged. It’s more than great to see so many Skûtsjes sailing with full sails on Frisian waters. Skûtsjesilen, its a Frisian sailing competition.
Skûtsjesilen a unique Frisian tradition
Skûtsjesilen takes place every year at the end of July and the beginning of August. It’s a sailing competition on the Frisian lakes. The Skûtsje sails on the wind energy of “wynenerzjy” in Frisian. Wind energy can therefore be translated into the expression ” the wind in the sails”, without wind a sailing boat cannot move forward. In the past, when there was no wind, the boat was pulled with ropes, by the skipper’s wife and children. After all, the cargo had to be delivered on time.
Championship | Competition Skûtsjesilen
Skûtsjesilen is another word for sailing competitions with old cargo ships. What matters at Skûtsjesilen is winning the SKS championship. The skipper with the fewest points is the winner. Points are earned in eleven matches. This fantastic competition with Frisian flat-bottomed boats takes place on the Frisian Lakes. The course runs from Grou, de Veenhoop, Earnewald, Terherne, Langweer, Elahuizen, Stavoren, Woudsend, Lemmer, and Sneek. The start of the match is governed by rules using flags and sounds. Skûtsjesilen is not an open competition. Only Skûtsjes whose owner and skipper are members of the S.K.S. are allowed to participate in the competitions. Skûtsjesilen, Frisian sailing competition
Skûtsje, a historic Frisian sailing cargo ship
Skûtsje is pronounced as ‘skoetsje’, which is the Frisian word for boat. The skûtsje used to be the cargo ship for the Frisian inland waterways. Almost all villages in Friesland were accessible by water. The Skûtsjes were the ‘trucks’ of that time and the canals were the highways.
A skûtsje is a historic wooden or steel Frisian sailing boat called a Tjalk, built for the transport of freight in Friesland. Depending on the season, they transported manure, soil, potatoes, and other bulk goods. The skipper and his family lived on board the skûtsje.
Between 1889 and 1933 there were around 870 ‘iron’ examples of this type of ship built. About 90 of these historic iron ships still sail in competitions. Unfortunately, all the wooden Skûtsje have disappeared. Unfortunately, not even a single example of an original wooden Skûtsje has survived, not even in a museum.
In the 19th century, sailing with the Skûtsjes in the competition was already done. If the peasants had no freight, they bet among themselves for a cash prize and sailed against each other. The skippers did everything they could to finish first. After the 2nd World War, freight transport on the Skûtsjes became superfluous. Since 1945, the competitions have been established by SKS Sintrale Kommisje Skûtsjesilen.
Book a trip on a Skûtsje or rent a Skûtsje
If you want to make a boat trip on a Skûtsje yourself, there are plenty of options to book a sailing trip or a cruise on the Frisian lakes, rivers, or canals. At the museum In Eernewoude, you can book a boat trip on Skutjse de Abelina or rent her for a half day.
➔ Skutjse de Abelina
Skûtsje museum Earnewâld | Eernewoude
The Skûtsjes Museum is a ‘skûthûs’, this used to be the heart of a Frisian shipyard. This museum focuses on the life of a former family of sailing skippers who sailed on Skûtsjes. The museum displays old shipbuilding crafts such as a forge and a sailmaker’s shop. In the museum, you will find hundreds of parts of Skûtsjes and the tools with which they were made. The reception area is a cozy skipper’s pub with a real skûtsje sword as a table. Old shipyard books from the famous shipbuilder Eeltje Holtrop van der Zee are in the library. Experience the cramped space on board a ship around 1900, when Skûtsjes under sail carried thousands of loads of peat, mound mud, manure, and sand every day.
The inhabitants of the Skûtsjes had a hard life, it was a life of hard work, and sometimes the joy of free time. On the quay near the museum lays a wooden skûtsje, the Aebelina, and de Risico, an iron skûtsje from 1922.
Eernewoude is a village in the municipality of Tietjerksteradeel, in the province of Friesland. The village is located on the edge of the nature and water sports area of National Park The Alde Feanen, between Leeuwarden and Drachten.
➔ Skûtsje Museum, De Stripe 12, 9264 TW Earnewâld | Eernewoude
➔ National Park The Alde Feanen