Reghinul has many stories, whether we are talking about violins, sporting goods, famous beers such as “Bucegi” and the list could go on and on. One of the beautiful stories written in Reghin is that of sports boats, a story that today, according to the members of the Reghin Nautic Club led by architect Klaus Birthler, turns 90 years old.
The story of sports boats in Reghin is as interesting as it is challenging, given the fact that Reghin is an extremely generous city in terms of water courses. Behind this beautiful story is the Varga family, the father Laszlo, who in 1932 built the first boats in Reghin, the son István, who coordinated the Sporting Boats Section within IPL Reghin, and last but not least, the grandson Zsolt, who currently refurbishes boats brought from Germany in order to use them on the waterways of the Reghin.
A life dedicated to sports boats
Varga István grew up next to the crafts made in Reghin, which would give him the opportunity to work in a field of tradition at the level of Reghin.
“After operating for a while opposite the train station, the current Remex furniture factory, boat production moved next to the timber factory, to which the musical instrument section also belonged, located on Axente Sever Street, where the IRUM Canteen used to be. In 1960, a new hall with three modules was built. Towards the Mureș channel was the boat section, in the middle were the sports items and in front were the musical instruments. There was a time when each section had its own designers, separate from the rest of the sections. Starting with 1968, the design workshop was established where I was appointed head of the workshop, after two years of internship in the boat department. I worked here until 1982, after which I was chief engineer, a position I held until 1991”, says engineer Varga István.
Everything was thought out to the smallest detail, including the testing of the boats. Both the place and the requirements of the beneficiaries were extremely important aspects, says engineer Varga. “There was then, like today, a canal that passed through the factory yard. From here we took the boats to the area above the big dam. There was an 800-meter track where these boats were tested and where rowing competitions were also organized. There they could try and test these boats. There was also direct contact with those who used the sports boats. At the time when we were making boats for the national team, especially canoes and skiffs, many athletes came to Reghin. The boat had to be built somewhat according to the athlete’s physical constitution, which is why they came to Reghin time and time again. I still treasure letters received from athletes who declared themselves extremely delighted with the Reghin-built boats on which they trained. In 1956, at the Melbourne Olympics, Mr. Leon Rotman with a canoe built in Reghin won the first gold medals for our country in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters event. In addition to canoes and skiffs, we also produced sailboats, including for the Olympic event, respectively the Yola FINN, Flying Dutchman and Star models”, says engineer Varga István.
The boats, presence in the consciousness of the people of Regina
Those who are well past the time of their youth still remember the recreational area of Reghin where boating was part of the charm of the city recalled by Eng. Varga István. “In the area of the old dam there was a cottage, the “House of Boats” as it was also known, where there were boats intended for both leisure and performance sports. It should be mentioned that Reghin had a rowing team, it went to competitions, some of which were organized in Reghin itself. We had competitors who even reached the national stage. In addition to the sports side, there was also the leisure side. In the area where the House of Boats was there was a side channel, although narrow it was a very beautiful one, with willows on the edge, where the more romantic young people went for a boat ride. Also, there was a channel, a track as we called it, about 800 meters long, where competitions could be organized, namely 500-meter trials. They worked until 1970, and after the construction of blocks in the Unirii District began, the Boat House was also demolished,” says Eng. István Varga.
The Mill Canal, navigable again?
The revival of the nautical phenomenon in Reghin, of sports boats, is starting to take shape, thanks to the Reghin Nautical Club initiated by architect Klaus Birtler from the unDAverde Association, which wants to enhance the dream of the engineer Varga, a navigable waterway in Reghin stretching over a distance of 11 kilometers.
“I have been trying to revive this boat tradition for a long time. Together with a team of passionate people we managed to restore some old wooden boats built in 1960-1961. Moreover, I proposed to the city management that these boats become the object of a Technical Museum where, in addition to these sports boats that we restored, sports objects manufactured in Reghin, including sports shoes, will be exhibited. We tried to unclog the old canal so we could row in that area. The amount of work is extraordinarily large which makes this work difficult to achieve. Instead, it was proposed that the area from the former water plant downstream would be unclogged, which would result in an appreciable distance that could be navigable by sports boats. If this project will be realized, water sports, even in the form of leisure, could be resumed in Reghin”, said Engineer Varga.
The Apple does not fall far from the tree
The one who closes the Varga circle is Zsólt, the grandson of the one who built the first boats in Reghin 90 years ago. The chip does not jump far from the trunk when it comes to the Varga, Zsólt family. being the one that brings a new breath, namely the restoration of boats intended for leisure.
“This boating microbe is in your blood, once it’s in you, you can’t get rid of it. The boats are brought from Germany, restored by me, having fiberglass as the material. We hope to be able to make wooden boats in the near future, so that this tradition in Reghin can be reborn,” said Zsólt.
Mariana Stroe, a founding member of the Reghin Nautic Club, is among those who love tradition, but especially its revival in terms of sports boats. “First and foremost, what I really want is to inform our young people, to let them know that we have a tradition in Reghin regarding sports boats. It is important for them to know that we had a boating enterprise and that we had the opportunity to sail by boat in the Reghin. We had a kayak club, we had the possibility to train. It’s a shame that this sport is finally lost, given the fact that we have Mureș, where you don’t even have to move. He passes by us, but unfortunately we turn our backs on him”, declared Mariana Stroe.
What to do?
“The first step is to bring the young people closer to the water, then to manage to organize, to make some boats, to renovate them, to give them the opportunity to feel and finally to spread the virus with this microbe. We managed to get an office, somewhere on Sărăi street. Here we have three rooms, two are workshops and one room is used as a meeting place. This space is located on the banks of the Mureș River, which gives us the opportunity to go out with boats on the water. In the future, we want to take students from school, friends, make all kinds of outings so that the world can understand, see what it’s about and love these boats, namely sailing on the watercourses of Reghin. We sincerely hope that all this will become a way of life in the end”, concluded Mariana Stroe.
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