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Cockburn’s wins the boat race

Cockburn’s has won the 2015 Barcos Rabelos race, featuring the boats that were traditionally used to carry Port down the Douro to the lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Held as part of the city of Porto’s annual São João festivities, the race runs from Afurada, close to the mouth of the Douro, to the city’s famous Luis I bridge. This year saw 14 Port houses compete against each other, with the Cockburn’s boat streaking ahead to win the race by more than half a kilometer.

The winning boat was crewed entirely by Symington Family Estates employees, including two lodge men, a vineyard manager, the company lawyer, an IT manager and two company directors.

The victory was particularly sweet as Cockburn’s is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Among the moves to mark this milestone, which falls as Symington Family Estates works to reinvigorate the brand, is the launch of Cockburn’s 1977 vintage later this year.

For a sense of the rather more precarious experience of those who manned the rabelos until the Douro was dammed during the 1960s, this documentary captures the rapids, rocks and oxen involved in transporting barrels of precious Port down the valley for aging.

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