La Gabarra To Undergo Restoration In Anticipation For Cup Final

La Gabarra is currently docked at Itsasmuseum (AS)

Over 36 years have passed since Athletic last sailed La Gabarra down the Estuary of the River Nervión. The team rode the famous boat in a parade to celebrate winning the La Liga and Copa del Rey titles in 1984 as fans lined the banks of the water and assembled on the bridges above. Today, La Gabarra rests in the dry dock of the Maritime Museum of Bilbao.

After decades of not being used the mythical boat is no longer seaworthy, but players and fans long to see it sail again. The wait may be over soon. Having reached the final of the Copa del Rey, there is hope that Athletic will lift another title and if that happens the plan is to take out La Gabarra for the first time in three decades to celebrate the trophy.

Athletic have reached an agreement with the Bilbao City Council and the Itsasmuseum to begin the process of restoring La Gabarra. An official announcement will be made on Friday detailing the plans with all three entities collaborating to restore La Gabarra “in anticipation of future successes.”

The symbolic start of the restoration will be attended by the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, Athletic Club President Aitor Elizegi, the Director of Itsasmuseum, Jon Ruigómez, and the Provincial Deputy of Euskera, Culture and Sport, Lorea Bilbao. Representatives of the Port Authority will also be in attendance along with Athletic legends, led by José Ángel Iribar, which will include the likes of Dani Ruiz-Bazán and Andoni Goikoetxea who were among the last players to ride La Gabarra in the 1980s.

Taking out La Gabarra was already being discussed before Athletic defeated Granada in the Cup semifinal second leg. In February the President of the Port of Bilbao, Ricardo Barkala, explained that doing so would be impossible. “It would need major repairs that would have to be done now,” he stressed. “La Gabarra is from another era and would need a bit of prosperity and modernity.”

La Gabarra is currently on display at Itsasmuseum, next to the Euskalduna Bridge, but doesn’t have a propulsion system. In the past it has always been towed by another boat, although it’s unclear if this will be part of the restoration process. More information will be provided during the announcement of the project and there is hope that Athletic will be able to take out La Gabarra once again if the Lions win the Copa del Rey title.

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