Offshore and between the buoys regattas with cabin cruisers are won on plywood. But there is an exception and it is called the Barcolana. Okay, category rankings matter, right. But the first boat that crosses the finish line in real time in the Gulf of Trieste, and wins the famous “line honors,” becomes the star for a day and its crew the hero of a city that at that very moment is the sailing capital of the world.
Four superboats on the assault of the Barcolana
That’s why everyone wants to win the Barcolana: just days before the start (Sunday, October 9, you can still sign up directly at this link) we unveil who are the protagonists of the 54th edition, superboats and crews aim to put the bow in front of everyone and win the cannon shot.
With a necessary premise: the weather. On Sunday, October 9, light (and possibly dancing) winds are expected in the Gulf of Trieste… Speed aside, tactics will play a key role.
Arca SGR – The “defender”
The winner of last year’s Barcolana is, of course, the favorite in this one as well. But you know, it is not easy to defend the title. The Maxi 100 Arca SGR (30.48 x 4.99 m) is. the real-time queen of offshore racing in the Mediterranean: a “traditional” displacement boat, albeit equipped with a canting keel. ARCA Sgr is managed by the Fast & Furio Sailing Team of Trieste doc Furio Benussi, first over the line at 151 Miglia, Giraglia, Palermo-Montecarlo, Tre Golfi and other offshore classics.
The boat is almost 20 years old: it was born in 2003 under the name Wild Thing to a design by Don Jones, made by the Hart Marine shipyard from carbon fiber sandwich with a balsa wood core. In 2004 at the Sydney-Hobart she lost her canting keel and scuffed. In 2012 it underwent a radical refitting.
The strength is not only the boat, but the team (with a Trieste “core” of great sailors: Gabriele Benussi, Lorenzo “Rufo” Bressani, Stefano Spangaro among others) and the helmsman: Furio Benussi has won four of the last five editions of the Barcolana: in short, he is someone who knows the race course very well. And then, the weather: no strong winds are expected on October 9, and in an interview, Benussi said that “with winds between 6 and 12 knots we are the fastest in the Mediterranean.”
Deep Blue – The “XXL-sized TP52”
Everything easy for Arca SGR? It doesn’t. There is no shortage of competition and it is fierce. Starting with Deep Blue, pictured here from the stern by Carlo Borlenghi, is an IRC 85 (25.00 x 6.50 m) designed by the Botin studio and built at Spanish composites specialist King Marine shipyard.
Very reminiscent in shape of the Maxi 72s and TP52s: it’s all about upwind performance, thanks to a reduced wetted surface and a considerable draft keel lift, from 5.30 to 7 meters. The owner is Wendy Schmidt, a U.S. entrepreneur and philanthropist who co-founded the 11th Hour Racing team (and wife of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt).The mission of the 11th Hour Racing Team is to build a high-performance team, but one that puts environmental sustainability at the heart of every area.
In the “commando” that will storm the Barcolana, Wendy Schmidt has chosen a team of strong New Zealand, Australian, and American sailors ( Rob McMillan (owner of Hood Sailmakers and Quantum Sails in Newport) will be at the tactician’s helm). But a key role on board will be played by a “local,” Andrea Visentini from Trieste, embarked as navigator, a great specialist in offshore racing.
If on long edges the Maxi Arca SGR would seem to be faster (also strong from its greater length), Deep Blue is a fast boat in restarts and maneuvers. We shall see.
Portopiccolo Prosecco DOC – Collector of Victories
Particular attention, then, should be paid to the 90-foot Maxi Portopiccolo Prosecco DOC (27.43 x 5.67 m), a mythical boat that has already been famous on race courses under other names-Rambler, Alfa Romeo 1, Shockwave. Who is behind the Portopiccolo operation? Claudio Demartis – a Barcolana veteran who has helped grow it over the years – and team manager Riccardo Bonetti. They coordinated the working group by putting together an Italian-Slavic crew with another Barcolana “ace” at the helm. Slovenian Mitja Kosmina, a previous winner of several editions at the helm of Esimit Europa 2 (formerly Alfa Romeo 2).
On board, in addition to professional Croatian, Slovenian and Italian sailors (Federico Benini, Riccardo Bonetti, Alberto Broggi, Sebastian Cettul, Marco Clean, Giacomo Conti, Matteo Ferraglia, Luca Gallas, Matteo Leghissa, Giulio Maccarone, Paolo Maier, Emanuele Noè, Giacomo Sala and Stefano Visentin), two young athletes from the Ukrainian national team among the strongest in the world in their respective classes: brothers Oskar (Optimist) and Sviatoslav Madonich (ILCA, former Laser).
The boat, fresh from numerous interventions aimed at further improving its performance, was designed by Reichel/Pugh in 2002 and built by Australian carbon specialist McConaghy Shipyard.
Equipped with a fixed keel, fresh from launching she won line honors at the Sydney Hobart, won the 2003 Giraglia and that year’s Fastnet in real time. She crossed the finish line first in nearly 80 regattas around the world. Who knows, maybe he won’t snatch victory in Trieste as well?
Way of life – Former Maxi Jena tries again
Another boat that can have its say is Way of Life (26.60 x 4.75 m) from Slovenian owner Gašper Vinčec, a Finn Olympian (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008). Don’t let the new name fool you: the boat has already won the Barcolana in 2019 (and in 2009, under the name Maxi Jena) and its crew is ready to play all its cards.
The boat, which has a fixed keel (2.2 m draft) was also built, in 2003, by McConaghy on naval architecture by Reichel/Pugh. Hull and superstructure are made of carbon.
Who will win the 54th Barcolana? Bets (and comments) are accepted. And who knows, there might be an outsider who makes a splash?
Barcolana, and will you be there?
Meanwhile, membership has risen to 1,300. We have already told you why you must attend, at least once in your life, the largest and most crowded sailing festival in the Mediterranean. Maybe not to win in real time, but to take away a good deal of satisfaction in your category, even with an under-revealed “cruise”. You just have to sign up “last minute” directly here!