For over 30 years, Mediterranean sailors have been taking their boats to the gulf of Trieste in the Adriatic Sea to participate in a week-long affair that has evolved to become a mega-event fittingly described as phenomenal. The Barcolana, which culminated last weekend in Trieste, Italy (October 13-14), includes a junior regatta, multiple 'round-the-buoys contests, overnight races, and a full schedule of tangential shoreside activities. In the evenings, the on-the-water action at Barcolana makes a daily segue to the shore where concerts are scheduled throughout the week. But the event reaches its true climax in a final-day marquee race that this year featured 1,969 boats on the starting line. Can you imaginealmost 2,000 boats all milling about during the same countdown? Its an affair thats equal parts sheer frenzy and dramatic spectacle.
Jumping off the line almost immediately, Flavio Favini and his crew aboard the Open 60 rocketship Cometa marshaled their way into the lead. With an adjustable keel, rotating mast, and forward daggerboards (see sidebar), Cometa is one of the marvels of the Open Class, which fosters enhanced performance through design freedom and innovation. Though pushed by a cadre of other 60-footers, Favini and his minions managed to make the most of the reaching angle to the first mark and led all the way from there. At the finish, Cometa was just five lengths ahead of her nearest rival, but still set a new record for the course by finishing in one hour and 16 minutes. (Cometa surpassed the former record by almost 20 minutes, set in 1992 by the Americas Cup racer Il Moro de Venezia.) The remainder of the fleet continued to stream across the finish line for several hours afterward.
The organizers tell us that the purpose of the Barcolana is to promote sailing as a sport, as well as to honor the tradition of the sea thats so important to this city. In their words: "This means a love for the sailing tradition, but also a love for technological innovation, to sail catching the spirit of the bond between water and wind." They say that for this reason, at Barcolana, there is no difference between the big sophisticated yachts that are devoted to winning and the other 1,000 boats that have always been the core of the event. "Celebrated champions and Sunday sailors live together, helping each other and sharing their commitment to a sport that also carries a deep spiritual aspect to it."
Those are heady words, but in a time when the sport needs all the supporters it can muster, theyre welcome ones as well.
For additional information, along with images and video, log on to the event's official website (English-language version) at: www.barcolana.it/eng/welcome/htm.
Open 60s of this variety are designed for pure speed over relatively short distances. Designed by Maurizio Cossutti, Cometa sports 2,905 square feet of upwind sail area, but displaces a mere 16,500 pounds, including a 7,000-pound adjustable keel. That gives this carbon-fiber and epoxy vessel a sail area-to-displacement ratio thats nearly off the charts, somewhere in the high 50s, depending upon how much mainsail roach you care to calculate. Watch for more records to fall wherever Cometa is on the starting line.
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