DUTCH BARGE RACING: Demolition Sailing

25 Apr

Racing barge

Who says you need a modern go-fast boat with foils to make sailing really exciting? Check out these video clips of traditional Dutch barges, called skutsjes, which were originally used for hauling cargo in Friesland and are still actively raced today. What blows me away in the first one are the guys to leeward with the sounding poles. Looks like a much dicier job than bowman! Note also the major TV sports coverage. Very impressive that. You can tell the Dutch have their priorities straight. Also… there’s a nice collision at 3:21.

Funny thing about Dutch, I tried translating the YouTube video description in a couple of different online translation programs, and Dutch translated into English looks just like Dutch in the original Dutch. Maybe someone who speaks Dutch can explain that to me.

Meanwhile, this viddy has a fantastic collision. One skutsje literally falls down on top of another one:

No, they don’t carry any ballast, and yes, they evidently do capsize with some frequency. The next clip has a nice demonstration of how it’s done and how you recover (starts at about 3:00). But please, if you don’t have a large tugboat handy, do not try this at home.

Finally, here’s an excerpt from a documentary film about the sport that was made back in the 1960s. Complete with subtitles. It gives a good sense of the tradition behind these boats.

And if you want to find out still more about traditional Dutch yachts, you can flashback into the WaveTrain archive and check this post on Hermann Goering’s famous botter jacht Groote Beer.


  1. Marijke Rink

    Like Arnold de Raa explains, you hear the frisian language. The symbols or letters on the sails refer to the villages/city of the barge. The competition is once a year and lasts 11 days, every day there is a route and a winner by points. The prime league competition is called SKS race, the lower league IFKS. SKS was set for professional skippers from skipper families. IFKS are for private people who own a skûtsje. The rules for SKS are more strict. As a friesian I am proud of our long tradition of skûtsje sailing and with strong wind it’s spectaculair!

  2. Arnold te Raa

    The language you hear is Frisian. Friesland is a northern part of the Netherlands where people speak there own langauge. The Frisians are very proud on there langage and Skutsjessillen. The sailing ships are called Skutsjes. And yes they are very competitive.

  3. Wes Newman

    As usual, Flash video, not viewable on Apple devices! Get a clue please. I like Charles’ stuff and would really like to see it.

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