Neville CRICHTON's Alfa Romeo 2 won the 39th Barcolana race in Trieste, taking line honours in a new record time of 55 minutes and 30 seconds.
CRICHTON has won the race for the fourth time (2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007) and raced ahead of the 1831-strong fleet in a technically perfect race: he waited to get clear before hoisting the gennaker, being concerned not to cause any damage to any of the 25,000 sailors in the Gulf, and rushed ahead towards the first mark at a speed of over 25 knots.
With more than 5 minutes advantage over all her rivals, a good 16-knot Bora wind, with gusts up to 35 knots, Alfa Romeo
had the victory in her hands. However it was only the excellent precision of the owner and helmsman and the boat's superiority that enabled CRICHTON to break the record on the 16.5 miles course. Alfa Romeo 2
broke the record of 58 minutes and 30 seconds set by Skandia in 2005, finishing two minutes faster to win Barcolana 39.
"This is our fourth win in the Barcolana and there is more enthusiasm among the crowd here than in New Zealand,"
said CRICHTON. "It has been a good race with a strong breeze at the start and we were quite concerned in causing no damage to the boats around us, so we did not hoist the spinnaker till we got clear. The rest of the race was quite straightforward and easy. We weren't sure we would break the record because the wind calmed down in the last leg but we've made it and it was good fun. We probably won't be here next year but the year after."
The race was battled out 5 minutes behind with an interesting duel between Maxi Jena
of Solvenian Mitja KOSMINA and Esimit Europa
of Igor SIMCIC.
KOSMINA, skipper of Maxi Jena
, after a difficult start due to some problems with the gennaker, immediately concentrated on clinching his "traditional" second place in Barcolana because ESIMIT, although a smaller boat, was able to sail ahead at the start and was second at the first mark, in Slovenian waters. However KOSMINA and his crew fought back, eventually crossing the line 15 minutes behind Alfa Romeo
to take second place.
KOSMINA explained, "It has been really tough today because the main winch got stuck at the start and we couldn't hoist the gennaker properly and also the wind shifted suddenly some 30°. All this happened in a few seconds and it was very difficult to keep calm and concentrated. We had to perform a series of physically heavy manoeuvres and at that moment I was afraid my crew would not be to keep the pace till the end. And this is why I very proud of my crew who concentrated on clinching the second place, because there was nothing we could do against Alfa Romeo 2 who was already ahead and Esimit-Europa was close behind, doing an really excellent race."
came in third, winning the maxi title for the sixth time.
There was a rather dramatic start in the RC44 race, with Russell COUTTS
' (NZL) Team Omega
together Team Ceeref
, with helmsman James SPITHILL
(AUS), and Es Bankers
, led by Dean BARKER
(NZL), all crossing the starting line almost one minute before the gun.
Despite his unconventional start, COUTTS was still enthusiastic at the finish, "Fantastic race today, we had a great time racing with so many sails and with perfect weather conditions, sailing close to 80-foot yachts. We had a lot of fun. Bora wind was strong and you had to make sure you pick the right angle to get to the first mark. It's a good strategic technical race. We hoisted the gennaker straight from the start. I'll definitely come back next year for the Barcolana, it's a fantastic race and a great sailing festival with so many boats involved."
Event Website - www.barcolana.it