Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Barcolana in Trieste: Alfa Romeo wins for New Zealand, Shosholoza AC entry is third

New Zealand first, fourth and fifth in the 40th edition of Italy's Barcolana.

The Barcolana, Trieste, Italy. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

by Barcolana media (abbreviated in translation)

Trieste's Barcolana race, with nearly 2000 entries, took place on Sunday, 12th October 2008.

Halfway through the second leg the international jury made the decision to shorten the route to allow as many as of the crews as possible to finish. So the last side of the triangle of of the race was eliminated.

MaxiJena, in the second half of the last leg, was compelled to engage Alfa Romeo in a tacking duel, which was to the benefit of the 100-foot grey hulled boat. This sort of match-race within the crowd (constituted from the hundreds of boats in the fleet) lasted over half an hour.

The advantage of the New Zealand boat was extended to four lengths. Neville Crichton knew how to maintain concentration in the decisive moment, covering the opponent and thereby taking the race. And the fifth victory for Alfa Romeo in Barcolana, and the third consecutive one, took little more than three hours.

Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo crosses the winning line first yet again in the Barcolana. Image copyright Barcolana media/www.barcolana.it

Second place went to the extraordinary MaxiJena of Kosmina. Third Shosholoza: the America's Cup boat, with patron Captain Sarno on board.

Fourth (in an RC44) was the incredible Russell Coutts whose finishing position was beyond every possible prediction, given the size of boat. He won the RC44 class in front of Artemis II, with Dean Barker on the helm.

The owner of Banco Espirito Santo (the winning RC44), Patrick De Barros, announced his participation in next year's Barcolana at the end of the race. "It is not possible to miss an event as emotional as this", he said.

Team Shosholoza Report

by Di Meek

South Africa's America's Cup Team Shosholoza was third across the finish line in a spectacular fleet of 2000 yachts competing in yesterday's 16 nautical mile Trieste Barcolana - Europe's biggest international sailing event and the only regatta in the world to set a single start line for so many yachts.

Shosholoza among the leaders off the start line. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

Shosholoza was the first ever America's Cup class yacht to enter the event which celebrates its 40th edition this year and boasts a set of mind-boggling statistics: 20 000 competing sailors, about 3000 spectator boats on the water, well over 350 000 enjoying the spectacle and related festivities ashore and many more all along the coastline.

The super light breezes which fluctuated between four knots at the 10am start, to six knots and then dying to a mere two at the finish favoured the South African yacht which was purpose built for the tight windward/leeward courses of America's Cup racing as opposed to the loose reaching conditions of the Barcolana. The light winds also minimised the chaos of the seemingly endless crush of yachts lining up to cross the comparatively short 1.5 nautical mile start line.

Even so the South Africans were edged out at the finish by New Zealander Neville Crichton's maxi Alpha Romeo who took the gun in 2hrs 59 min and 43 seconds for his fifth Barcolana. At the helm of Alpha Romeo was 2007 America's Cup winning skipper Brad Butterworth of the Swiss Team Alinghi with many of his crew on board. Second was the maxi Jena owned by Slovenian Mitja Kosmna who finished in 3 hrs 2 min and 20 seconds.

But Team Shosholoza, skippered by Paolo Cian, also set the ships' horns booming and got a rousing cheer from the massive spectator fleet as they crossed the finish in 3 hrs 9 min 26 seconds just ahead of the fast RC 44 Black Pearl skippered by Russell Coutts, the three times America's Cup winning skipper, who did the race in 3 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds.

Shosholoza founding managing director Captain Salvatore Sarno said he was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event, the Shosholoza fans who crowded the dockside to cheer and support the South African America's Cup team, the 100's of people who wanted autographs and the unique spectacle on the water.

"I have never ever seen anything like this. Incredible. And it is amazing that the crew of an America's Cup yacht can still give so much emotion to the spectators in a regatta like this. It is not true that America's Cup class yachts can only sail at the America's Cup, they can also be competitive in regattas like the Barcolana. Of course we wanted to win.Why else did we come here?

"But we had a very good race tactically, our crew did good work in the light wind, we have flown the South African flag all week and we have had fun. Now we are looking forward to racing in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup in Auckland, New Zealand in Frebruary next year and then we want to hold a follow up America's Cup class event in South Africa in June," said Captain Sarno.

Shosholoza skipper Paolo Cian who has now clocked up a first, a second and two thirds as skipper in four Barcolana events described Shosholoza's performance as "incredible". "We were a bit unlucky on the first leg when the wind went right and we were forced to do a couple of gybes which is painful because we lose so much time. But this boat, even though she is heavy, is very fast upwind even in very light winds and we could make the top three.

"This is a crazy race, absolutely unique, you just can't compare it to any other race in the world and we had a lot of fun. It was great." said Cian.

Shosholoza tactician Tommaso Chieffi said the the regatta had shown that in light air Shosholoza could triumph. He said it was also exciting for Shosholoza to take Coutts at the finish as at one point the super fast smaller boat had been almost five minutes ahead. But with the dying wind Shosholoza, particularly with her high mast, could maintain momentum and get through the RC44. "I have full respect for them. They had a good race," said Chieffi.

Trimmer David Rae from Cape Town said the spectator fleet was way bigger than that in Valencia at the America's Cup last year. "For the folks back home to understand how big the event is I would say it is like the Vaal Dam's Round-the-island Race - just four times bigger!" Grinder Johann Spilhaus described the race as an awesome spectacle and pitman Solomon Dipeere from Johannesburg said it was simply amazing. "I have never ever raced against 2000 boats before. It was beautiful."

Locals describe the Trieste Barcolana as a celebration of all things nautical. It is an end of the sailing season celebration not only for the city of Trieste but the whole of Italy and other countries too. "Sailing is natural for us. It is a way of life to be with the sea and to live with the sea. The sea is the heart and soul of Trieste and now we share this event with people from all over the world. It is something fantastic even for us."

The crew of Team Shosholoza led by South Africa's Captain Salvatore Sarno (far right on the bow), skippered by Paolo Cian (2nd from right) and Tommaso Chieffi on tactics before the start of yesterday's Trieste Barcolana which saw the South African America's Cup yacht finish 3rd in a fleet of over 2000 yachts. It was the first time that an America's Cup class yacht had entered the event which is the only regatta in the world to set a single start line for so many yachts. Image copyright Emme and Emme-Parenzan.

Sea and shore based festivities leading up to the Barcolana started a week ago in this ecsquisite city which is known as a "little Vienna of the sea" because of its distinctive architecture and history as being part of the old Austro/Hungarian Empire.

Team Shosholoza
Trieste Barcolana

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