World's largest yacht race

Chaos in Trieste prior to tomorrow's Barcolana

Saturday October 11th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Italy
The world's yacht largest yacht race - in terms of participants - takes place tomorrow in Trieste on Italy's Adriatic coast. Organised by the Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano, more than 2,000 yachts of 20-90ft LOA will take the single start line at 10am local time, around 24,000 people will take part and it will be watch an estimated 250,000 people from the shore.

Favourite for line honours is Neville Crichton's maxi Alfa Romeo. The Australia-based Kiwi car importer is extremely happy to be in Trieste with so many other boats. Some key talent has been brought on board Alfa Romeo for the race including Alinghi’s legendary tactician, Brad Butterworth and for local knowledge there is Lorenzo Bressani, who was tactician on the winning boat last year.

Alfa's main opponent is the 80ft maxi Magic Jena of Mimmo Cilenti and Mitja Kosmina, second last year. In addition to this are five VO/Whitbread 60s including both Amer Sports boats.

The course is the same as ever - 14.5 miles long and trapezoidal in shape, with a buoy in Slovenian waters. A light southerly wind is forecast.

Logistically aside from the ridiculous start sequence - 'bang' and 2,000+ boats cross the line simultaneously, conditions ashore have been little better with boats berthed five deep and hotels solidly booked for as much as 50km up the coast in either direction.

The Barcolana, now in its 35th year coincides with a boat show - the Barcolana Sailing Show and a festival, plus several regattas from Optimists to one designs. The latter was the Fincantieri Cup, sailed in the new Solaris 36ODs.

This invitation-only race was organised by Promo Sail with the Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano and Yacht Club Adriaco, and with the partnership of Fincantieri, Tamoil and AEG.

The 10 teams competed in eight races over three days. During the racing 470 World Champion Gabrio Zandonà, injured his foot and was unable to finish the races (Enrico Fonda took the helm). The result remained uncertain till the end. In the end Furio Benussi got the better while Casale, 2nd until yesterday, was caught by Croatia’s Darko Haidinjak, who has caught up well over the last two days. In the final results just one point separated the three helmsmen.

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