HISTORY doesn’t record the welcome Elcano received after sailing around the world, but today’s Centenario V celebrations, in the seas off Cadiz would be hard to beat.
The Spanish captain Elcano completed the voyage that Magellan planned, sailing his ship, the Victoria, back to the Cadiz port of Sanlucar de Barrameda on September 6, 1522, after three years at sea.
King Felipe was guest of honour aboard the Navy training ship, the Juan Sebastian Elcano, for a naval review marking the anniversary. A total of 12 Navy vessels took part, including the aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I, the amphibious assault ship Galicia, frigates, combat supply ships and patrol boats.
A replica of the wooden carrack, the Victoria, had pride of place and was accompanied in the parade by several other historic ships.
Hundreds of locally-owned fishing boats and sailing boats bobbed alongside in choppy seas as the ships from the naval base in Rota towards Chipiona and on past Cádiz.
Helicopters from the 5th and 10th squadrons of the Navy Aircraft Flotilla and five Harrier jets flew overhead before making a fly pass over Sanlucar’s beaches.
Approaching Sanlucar, the ships and accompanying flotilla of boats paused at the Elcano buoy, where the Naval choir sang and wreaths were laid to commemorate those who were lost during the expedition.
Out of the 239 who set sail in 1519, only 18 men returned. The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, himself, was killed in a battle in the Philippines.
Afterwards, the 26-metre, three-mast, Victoria crossed the sand bar into the Guadalquivir, just as it had when captained by Elcano 500 years ago to the day.
It then led a procession of small boats and replicas, including a galleon (Andalucía), a caravel (Vera Cruz) and a brigantine schooner (Cervantes Saavedra), towards Sevilla where it will arrive on September 8.
The Victoria will be moored at Muelle de las Delicias in Sevilla, and open to visitors as part of this action-packed Festival Centenario V.
The festival continues in Sevilla until September 11. Additional highlights include a light spectacle involving 250 drones over the Plaza de España on September 9, and a performance by La Fura dels Baus on September 10.