“We almost won the Round Aeolian Race in a 1981 boat. Having the time of our lives.”

joshua II Round Aeolian Race
Joshua II, Salvatore Caradonna’s Ziggurat 995, third overall (second in class) in cruise/race at the Round Aeolian Race. It is the boat featured in Andrea Barbera’s beautiful story.

Get off the latest generation Figaro 3s equipped with foils to board an old Ziggurat 995 from 1981 and have the time of your life at the fourth edition of the Round Aeolian Race, the offshore regatta that circumnavigates the Aeolian archipelago organized by the Capo d’Orlando Yacht Club in Sicily.

Sailing has many souls, and the skipper Andrea Barbera, whom we know well (he was the most voted sailor at the TAG Heuer 2020 Sailor of the Year, winning the “Most Voted” audience award) tells us about it in this article that wrote once the RAR ended, in third place overall (second in category), ahead of much more competitive and “pulled” boats than the Joshua II, this is the name of Salvo Caradonna’s Ziggurat 995. At the end of the article are the rankings of the regatta.

If Moitessier was there, he would have fun, too.

At Noon I get a phone call, on the other end of the phone with a Palermo accent is Salvatore Caradonna, the owner of a Ziggurat 9.95 with the important name, Joshua II (the Joshua was Bernard Moitessier’s boat, ed.).

With Salvo we know each other by sight and on social media, we have met in other editions of RAR but never had a chance to make friends, he calls me to propose me to participate in the Round Aeolian Race 2022 with his boat, he tells me a bit about Joshua, and from the way he talks about it I can tell he is deeply in love with it. He describes to me how it is equipped, what sails are on board, tells me about the other crew members, then ends the conversation with, “nn’ama divertiri” (in Sicilian, “we have to have fun”), this last phrase strikes me and I do not hesitate to accept his proposal.

Salvo Caradonna and Andrea Barbera
Ziggurat 995 Joshua II owner Salvo Caradonna (foreground) and skipper Andrea Barbera

“But what boat am I on?”

The day before departure, September 28, I leave for Capo d’Orlando and meet with Salvo: he says, “come on board and I’ll show you the boat.” We get on Joshua, and I feel like I’m stepping back in time. (the last regatta I did I was aboard the Figaro 3 equipped with foils, at the “Pink Ribbon Tour”).

The Ziggurat is moored at one of the docks at the beautiful Capo d’Orlando marina where I work with charter year-round, the red hull is a bit faded and makes the boat look even older, the small and uncomfortable cockpit (I had forgotten what it was like on these boats), minimal interior, old-fashioned stoppers of the kind that if you don’t put tension on the rigging they won’t open, selftail winches that would need to be changed, cheek chokes that sometimes don’t hold and the rigging slips, short cranks with no ball bearings.

The Joshua II racing at a past edition of the VELA Cup in Capo d’Orlando.

But all in all. the boat has nice sails although not for all gaits, three jibs, one mainsail and three spinnakers, the halyards are in dyneema, various deflections, basically it is quite well equipped for a 1981 boat, Salvo has tried to make it as much as possible a racing boat, the electronics are essential I would say almost absent, nothing sophisticated, an anemometer in the masthead, windex, log with propeller, a compass with opaque glass, no tablets, computers, for interfaces we do it the old fashioned way.

Also arriving on board are the other young crew members, Lorenzo Falletta the bowman, Antonio Gitto on the halyards and Giulia Arezzo who will be the tailer.

Us vs. “spaceships” at Round Aeolian Race

At the dock I observe the boats of our opponents, modern hulls, some spaceships, stratospheric budgets, dozens and dozens of new bags of sails, whippers, O-tails, ultralight fabrics, fierce crews, professionals, dressed to the nines, in my head I think “those guys are serious.”

Before the start of the Round Aeolian Race 2022: Many “pulled” boats participated in this year’s edition

nd I don’t give up with Salvo and the guys we prepare the boat, pass the sheets, assemble the circuits, from aboard we unload what we don’t need, galley our duffels and go relax over a good beer.

Aeolian Islands clockwise

Here we take the opportunity to take a look at the weather on the various websites with our smartphones, with Salvo agreeing that if the forecast was confirmed the option to choose would be to circumnavigate the Aeolian Islands clockwise (the RAR is, along with the Elbable on Elba Island, the only one of the “palindrome” regattas in the Mediterranean and can be sailed in both directions, clockwise and counterclockwise, at the crews’ discretion).

round aeolian race
Joshua II crew at Round Aeolian Race 2022

In the evening there is the briefing and immediately afterwards a buffet dinner for the crews, an excellent organization as always by the Yacht Club Capo d’Orlando that this year I have the honor to represent as an athlete, these occasions I consider them one of the most pleasant moments of a regatta, we joke, we laugh, we chat with the other teams, we compare ourselves, after all, sailing is also this, socializing and conviviality.

Round Aeolian Race: Slow start and spi wrapped but…

The next day we leave the harbor a little late and do not have much time to try some maneuvers, our crew is new, basically we don’t know each other well but we find a square right away, we arrive a few minutes early behind the starting line, the slight breeze present almost clears and we struggle to cross the line, immediately in trim however we manage to pick up the pace and confirm our choice, time lap, we aim Alicudi, about ten boats do the same thing, the rest of the fleet points to Vulcan and turns counterclockwise.

Aboard Joshua II at the Round Aeolian Race 2022
Aboard Joshua II at the Round Aeolian Race 2022

We have long wave at the jaw of about a meter and wind about 15 knots the boat in trim travels well upwind wide starboard tack, then the wind rotates from behind and we decide to raise the spinnaker, after an hour while we are catching up with the fleet a distraction at the helm and one wave too many deflates our spi and wraps around the forestay, three of us on the bow try to free it but the wind keeps it under pressure and a somewhat slack halyard at the masthead twists around and makes it even more difficult, after half an hour we manage to free it but the rest of the boats have stretched out by now, we turn Alicudi and at sunset we round Filicudi staying windless for a while because of the island cover.

… never give up

We are almost stationary, we all position ourselves downwind, flag the boat down as much as possible, and manage to get out and pick up the pace, We sail well and at midnight we catch up on the group below the island of Salina, they’re all bogged down there with no wind, and we swoop down on them at six and a half knots, get out of the channel between Lipari and Salina, and we’re out of wind again.

The others take advantage of breezes and manage to stretch toward Panarea and then Stromboli, slowly we make two then three sail changes, the guys do not stop for a moment, the boat is uncomfortable, the spaces on board are cramped and do not facilitate sail changes, but we try everything, finally pick up the pace and we also arrive under the Stromboli skiara, we get out of the leeward of the Volcano and catch the long-awaited southeast wind that was expected.

Andrea Barbera aboard the Joshua II
Andrea Barbera aboard the Joshua II

We round the island and with 17/19 knots, we sail on a single edge, first rounding Panarea and then toward the mouths of Vulcano, Salvo and I take turns at the helm, the guys outside at the dredges don’t give each other a moment’s rest, they are extraordinary, always active and ready for any maneuver, we pass the mouths and head fast toward the finish positioned off the harbor of Capo d’Orlando where we find that the fleet ahead of us is stationary with no wind and we manage to get close to the group traveling at almost seven knots.

The brilliant idea

We are almost at the finish line but the wind suddenly leaves us as well and we remain three miles from the finish line, stationary and dangling, after half an hour a sudden puff comes out and we immediately give the spi but it drops ten minutes later forcing us to lower it, Suddenly Salvo has an idea, we raise the boom quite a bit with the mistletoe and fly the mainsail without the weight of the boom pulling it down, it works! We gain half a knot.

As we approach the end, we see the fastest boats in the fleet there in front of us, even with some we arrive almost at the same time, we think “gosh we didn’t do so bad.” We cross the finish line after 31 hours (the previous RAR record) of racing and 145 miles traveled, exhausted enthusiastic and full of adrenaline.

Round Aeolian Race: “I haven’t had such fun in years!”

End result: I haven’t had this much fun in years, an experience that reminded me a lot of the first offshore races in my early days, we close the regatta on an eighty-one boat with its limitations with a splendid second place in the D class, ahead of us only the favorites of the Dufour 34 Performance Freedom, an overprepared boat and team in all respects, and third in Overall behind Freedom second, and Lisa R, Giovanni di Vincenzo’s McConaghy Ker 46 setting a new course record for the race.

Behind us in the ranking performance monster boats such as J122, Vismara 34, Sly 42, Grand Soleil 43, Pogo, Comet 45s Race, Ice 60, Solaris 40, Italia Yacht 10.98, Adriasail 49 and X-35 One Design.

We are amazed, the choices and commitment on board have rewarded us, we find that many have been stationary in becalmed conditions below Stromboli, we, on the other hand, have sailed most of the time well apart from a few rare moments of flat calm, we have never spared ourselves, the boys have given their all exceptional people also characteristically, from the very beginning we have found a balance on board that has made us feel good, we covered 145 miles with smiles on our faces joking with each other and staying focused on the piece.

A fantastic experience, which allowed me to get to know some exceptional sailors with whom we promise to meet again aboard the legendary Joshua, for new adventures, under the sign of the spirit of the great Moitessier. Who, I bet, if he had been on board would have had a good time too.

Andrea Barbera

All the winners of the Round Aeolian Race 2022

In the Cruising Regatta Category, as you already know if you have read the piece, the victory went to Ker 46 Lisa R, excellent second place for the home boat Freedom, Patrizia Musarra’s Dufour 34 Performance, which confirms itself as a true specialist in this regatta. In third place was Salvatore Caradonna’s Joshua II.

Also of note is the first place in ORC A Corinthian class (i.e., without professionals on board) of Andrea Casini’s Comet 45S Quattrogatti.

Among multihulls, victory for Aldo Fumagalli’s Neel 47 Minimole, which got the better of Raffaele Brancati’s Met White Whales.

In the Cruising category with the shortened 65-mile course, after a head-to-head race that lasted the entire race, the Syracuse crew of Corrado Rizza’s Le Coq Hardì got the better of Francesco Giopato’s Shaasa, a boat with a crew from Treviso. Third place for the Palermo-based Le Due Lune of Fulvio Russo.

Info, entries and rankings at https://roundaeolianrace.it/



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