Carlo Borlenghi and Luca Butto/Studio Borlenghi

Barcolana glass out

Only 20 finishers out of 1737 starters at the world's biggest single start regatta

Monday October 15th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy

This weekend's Barcolana was among the slowest in the last years. The Esimit Europa 2 maxi, the fastest yacht in the Mediterranean, which has beaten many records this year, it took her 3 hours and 59 minutes to cross the finish line of the world's biggest regatta. But as ever it was the spectacle that was almost more important with 1737 sailboats boats and over 20,000 sailors lining up for the mass start off Trieste.

While over 25 knots of Bora wind blew on the eve of the race, when it came to the Barcolana44 itself this morning, there was a very light southeast wind at the start which dropped to dead calm leaving most of the fleet floundering in the middle of the Gulf. The weather forecasts said a westerly should have started blowing, but it didn’t and only 20 boats managed to cross the finish line after sailing around the 17-mile course.

At the start, Vasco Vascotto at the helm of TP52 Aniene 1a Classe, slowly sailed ahead surprising Esimit Europa 2 and held the lead for the first minutes together with Maxi Jena of Mitja Kosmina. But after 15 minutes Esimit Europa 2 managed to get out of the bundle at the start and after two tacks took the lead. She rounded the first mark with a large advantage. The yacht helmed by Alberto Bolzan, with skipper Jochen Schümann, fought alone against dead calm to finish the race. Already her crew is thinking about her next event: setting a new record sailing from Trieste to La Valletta.

Behind Esimit Europa 2, was Maxi Jena, sailing with two 470 champions aboard in Jas Farneti and Simon Sivitz Kosuta, who had to watch for out Vascotto on the whole clearance leg, before moving ahead thanks to its sail surface and size of the hull. It was already time to party among the fleet lagging behind in the dead calm and the possibility of crossing the finish line became an illusion. Astern of Esimit Europa 2, the boats battled it out to make it on the podium. Vascotto, rounded second the first and second mark, saw Maxi Jena overhaul him at the beginning of the third leg: sudden wind drops forced teams to change sails continuously.

Half way through the leg, Hungary’s outsider Wild Joe, the canting keel 60 footer with a gennaker on the bowsprit, got ahead and crossed the finish line between Aniene 1a Classe and Maxi Jena. While Esimit Europa 2 changed thousands of headsails to make the most of the light breeze, finishing in almost 4 hours, Maxi Jena rounded the mark off Santa Croce and kept her second place finishing over half an hour later, followed by Wild Joe and Vascotto, with an excellent fourth place and first in class.

The miracle this year comes from the small 40 footer Sayonara, first in class 1 (in fact first in her class for 10 years in a row) of Roberto Bertocchi: empty boat, 11 crew members and 120 sqm of gennaker hoisted about 20 times to catch any puff of wind. Shining (third in Super Maxi), came home sixth.

In the end only 20 boat in the massive fleet finished.

"A very different Barcolana," said President of the Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano, Vincenzo Spina, who raced on his Nothing Personal. "On Saturday a strong Bora wind was blowing, today it’s dead calm. The wind rules over regattas. On land we have organised a great party, one week long, and today the party went on at sea because many crews realized it was hard to finish the race".

The results feature 20 boats finished out of 1737 at the start, but according to the special rules of the Barcolana, further 58 boats who have passed the gate at Miramare within the time limit are able to be included in the result if they send, as provided in the Sailing Instructions, the race declaration showing the time when they passed through the gate.

A dead calm stopped La Poste 200 metres from the line. The yacht helmed by young sailor Benedetta Skofich, with sailor and businessman Vincenzo Onorato and Triestine Lorenzo Bressani tactician. "We stopped just before the line," said Bressani "but in our hearts we really won. It was really moving when our crew was warmly welcomed ashore. The Barcolana did a true miracle, it enabled ten boys and girls with Down syndrome to be the protagonists and sail among 1700 boats. It’s a pity judges did not decide to shorten the course, we could have finished at Miramare and it would have been a great party for all".

Igor Simcic, owner of Esimit Europa 2 said: "The most deadly calm edition ever. It was a different Barcolana and hard-fought but not less awesome. A very tactical race, very difficult. We have always sailed at our best, even if it was only 7 knots. Our strategy proved to be right; we faced wind shifts changing sails at the right moment. Our crew is perfect with 40 or 4 knots. The Barcolana is always amazing you cannot find regattas like this one anywhere else, and for this reason it’s so exciting".

Jochen Schuemann added: "After last year’s Barcolana I almost feel at home here in Trieste. It was a very technical race, very difficult and nothing could be taken for granted in these conditions. I have never found anywhere else the warm welcome I have found again here. It is a special race and different from all the others".



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