More than 10 million Italians tuned in their TVs at the weekend (10 October 2004) to watch Aussie super maxi Alfa Romeo beat 1,960 other yachts in the 36th annual Barcolana Cup, taking Line Honours for the second year in succession.
"This race is quite remarkable and it is an honour to win it for the second time,"
said skipper and owner of Alfa Romeo, Neville CRICHTON, at the end of the event, which is based at the Italian port of Trieste.
"The combination of nearly 2000 competitors, hundreds of thousands of people watching the event from the coast and spectator yachts and ten million people on TV give this event an atmosphere that is quite unique."
Neville CRICHTON and Alfa Romeo, the winner of the 2002 Rolex Sydney to Hobart race did not have it all their own way. At the start of the event, the wind was very light at five to six knots, despite being the famous sirocco wind.
This enabled Jena to get the jump on Alfa Romeo, leading the Australian yacht for three quarters of the first leg, until building winds and Alfa Romeo's massive 670 square meter spinnaker gave her a decisive advantage.
By the end of first leg, Alfa Romeo was more than a minute ahead of Jana, with the two super maxis leaving the rest of the massive fleet struggling in their wake.
Alfa Romeo crossed the finish line in 1 hour 19 minutes, four minutes ahead of Jana. This was short of the race record of 1 hour 15 minutes, but given the very light winds, it was still a remarkable performance by Alfa Romeo.
This win brings Alfa Romeo's total line honours tally to 71.
Neville CRICHTON and Alfa Romeo now turn their attention to their final event of the season and, given that her replacement is already under construction and due for launch in July 2005, what could be her final event, the Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Alfa Romeo took line honours in the main race, a circumnavigation of Sicily, starting from Malta, as well as in the support in shore events in last year's event, a feat that the team not only hope to repeat when the event starts on 23 October, but they also want to set a new race record for Alfa Romeo's finale event.