Otokar Tirhandil Cup 2018 Winter Trophy, organised by Era Bodrum Sailing Club, is running at full speed. The Tirhandil Cup also plays an important role in the revival of a tradition which is about to be forgotten.
We have conducted an interview with Tirhandil Cup Organising Committee Chairman, Erdem Agan, about the organisation.
How did the idea of Tirhandil Cup originate, would you share the story with us?
The Bodrum Cup is getting prepared to celebrate its 30th anniversary this October. Boats in various sizes and types are competing in the Bodrum Cup. The "Tirhandil" type boat, which is the most enjoyable category among the others, makes one feel it's important to compete rather than win. Over time, a Tirhandil category has been created within the organisation. We asked ourselves why we did not organise a Tirhandil Cup.
Twenty-seven Tirhandils from different regions of Turkey, most of them were manufactured in Bodrum, participated in our first organisation, which took place in 2016. In our first race, we invited the audience and everybody to Kumbahce, with twenty-two boats, we just raised our mainsails and headed towards Halikarnas. The people gathered on the beach and watched the passage of the boats with great enthusiasm.
Tirhandil Cup 2018 Winter Trophy consists of six stages. It started in December and will last until May. If the weather conditions do not hinder, the third stage will be held on the 17th and 18th of February. Most of the contestants are Tirhandil sailors and the sailors of Turkey such as Arkun Demircan, Cuneyt Buyukucak, Aytug Ürer exist among them. All of them compete on every single boat and that makes the teams even better. For instance, the competition speed of the teams was 4.5 knots two years ago which is now increased to 5.5 knots. The boats have both been modified and their sails have been renewed and so they have become better competitors.
In the past years, while the Bosphorus Cup was held in Bodrum, we as Tirhandil sailors were invited due to lack of participation. We participated in the competition with 8-10 boats and we showed the people that Tirhandils were able to reach the same speed and the same angle as the GRP boats. Previously despised, the Tirhandils are now respected.
Let's talk about the details of the race, do you have a route?
We have 20 routes. We set up alternative routes such as Orak island, Kistak island or Karaada island as our geographic routes. However, our race can be postponed depending on weather conditions.
If the route occurs around or between geographical features, boats start from a certain point, go to another geographical point and go back or they can go from there to another. If the route occurs around or between buoys features, within a short distance, many boats take the same start and race according to each other's road rights and conflict rules. The courses are called sausage, triangle, and trapezoid. However, there is not much conflicting situations in the geographical courses. You go back and forth on a certain route. The reason we chose buoys features as a course is that it enables the boat racers and sailors to develop tactics.
What are the participation requirements for the races?
Only the applicants who have licenses from The Turkish Sailing Federation are able to participate in the races. There must be at least 3 competitors on each boat.
Could you talk about the awards?
The races which are held every month also have awards for original designs. The cultural heritage of our ancestors rest of us s a reward in itself and we are trying to keep it remained. We are preparing prizes with original designs that reflect the spirit of the Tirhandil rather than just a simple cup. We have an idea to give the organisation the name of a Tirhandil master every year. We will be sharing this idea at the end of our trophy.
A new era has begun with Tirhandil Cup. As the bird Simurgh was, Tirhandil was born from the ashes. Everyone has been intrigued and new orders have begun to come. People got tired of GRP boats that anyone could sail and furthermore there are those who want the object has a soul.
What is Tirhandil?
Tirhandil, widely used in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, preserves its significance from ancient times to today, is a wooden boat equipped with both sails and oars.
The name is derived from the ancient Greek trechinery / trechender / triakene means 1/3 and it indicates this rule which is applied all the boat's dimensions. Its head and stern side are jagged and the tiller controls it. With its round body, large belly and deck, it has an ideal form for freight transport, fishing, and sponge hunting. It is a fast sailboat, which is convenient for cruising. Because of its superior manoeuvrability, aspect ratio, and low height, it does not turn upside down easily. In ancient times, it was the most significant and widely used vehicle of maritime trade due to its safety, solid structure and resistance to the sea. In Homer's Iliad and Odyssey epics, the boats expressed as "big belly boats" must be in the form of a Tirhandil.
The boat used by Iason, the leader of the Argonauts who went to search for the golden post in Greek mythology, is also the Tirhandil according to ancient sources. Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who was the first father of history, also mentioned Tirhandil boats in “the history of Herodotus”, where he compiled his travels.
Tirhandils, is the trade’s apple of the eye in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, have undergone only minor changes for almost 2000 years up to today. The boat belonging to the Serce Harbour in the Glass Wreck which is in the exhibition in the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum is close to the form of a Tirhandil with its length of 15 metres and width of 5.13 metres. The construction is similar to the technique used in Bodrum shipyards now.
A lighthouse keeper in Gulluk named Namilerin Mehmet who went to Kalymnos and worked with the Greek masters, after learning the technique, made the first Tirhandil manufactured in Bodrum. He then naturally became a master of Tirhandil. Then, Ziya Guvendiren, who was trained as the apprentice by Namilerin Mehmet, built a magnificent Tirhandil giving great effort in this regard. The Tirhandil masters such as Çolak Erol (Agan), İsmail Özyurt, Erol Özyurt, Kıvırcık Mustafa, Ilkay Mıstık, Mustafa Özkeskin (Hacı), Mahir Top, Mehmet Nami Uyav and Kucuk Ziya was trained by master Ziya and their names were written on maritime and sponge history of Bodrum. Presumably, the most famous Tirhandil of today is the Aksona Mancorna which is made by master Ziya and belongs to the legendary sponge diver Aksona Mehmet.