When was the last time you went to a boat christening? In many clubs, the christening of boats is a recurring ritual and is planned every time a boat is bought. Boat christenings are welcome occasions to get members, families and friends into the boathouse. But how do you do it? How do I christen my rowing boat?
Why christening your rowing boat?
What’s behind the custom to christen your boat? Boat christening has a long tradition and probably goes back to traditions by Greeks and Babylonians. Most of these events were of religious origin, including sacrifices and boat blessings. The traditions changed during time. No one today would think to use the blood of an ox to bless the boat.
At the beginning of the Reformation the religious aspect lost its importance when military leaders and nobles took over. The ship was then celebrated, mostly with leftover alcohol.
How do I christen my rowing boat?
Most clubs use champagne or water. But that too has only emerged in recent years.
Note: Shipbuilders in the United States have christened their warships with many different liquids – some are even baptized multiple times. Whiskey, Madeira wine, brandy, water from the Atlantic, grape juice are used amongst other things. Champagne was used from 1890.
Why do people mostly use champagne these days? Champagne or sparkling wine came “en vogue” when this drink was attributed with power and elegance in modern society. In addition, the bottles were thick and heavy. They didn’t always burst and were a challenge for the godfather.
This is (almost) no longer an issue today. You don’t throw bottles at boats anymore anyway. Your boat christening could go like this:
Boat christening on Sunday:
By naming the godfather(s), you can always honour individuals of your club – A well-deserved club colleague, the best female/male crew, the main sponsor, whoever deserves an honour. Talk to them before the ceremony and explain in detail what they have to do. So that they can prepare themselves in advance. It gives them a chance to think about a quote, a rhyme, and a little speech. And remember to remind them to speak loudly. From our own personal experience, there’s nothing more disappointing than not understanding a word when you’re in the second or third row.
Also decide whether you will baptize the boat from glasses or directly from the bottle. If several people have the honour, it makes sense to pour the drink from the bottle over the bow together. Personally, I think that’s the most beautiful thing about the bottle. You can shake it, let the cork “pop” and baptize it with applause.