Church boats are still raced extremely aggressively all over Finland. The big event these days is the regatta at Sulkava, where up to 10,000 rowers converge to thunder over a 60km course round an island.
The boats are still made of wood, but are not as aesthetically attractive as the traditional church boats. They use plywood, for a start, and the gunwales are parallel all down the centre section so the rowing positions are all the same, which forces a nasty kink in the sheerline. The oars are not things of beauty either, usually hatchet shaped but in wood to comply with the rules.
Oddly, despite the insistence on traditional Finnish design features, sliding seats are allowed.
But taking part in a long race with a crew of 14 plus cox and 10,000 other people must be an incredible experience. Next year, the organisers are inviting crews from round the world to participate - for details of the World Masters Race in Sulkava on July 11, 2010, download the brochure.
The picture is from Villoks' Flickr photostream.