La Barcolana 2015
October 11, 2015
It was a close call for the Barcolana. Friday the weather forecasters were calling for strong bora winds on regatta day – Sunday. Luckily for the regatta the bora arrived early Saturday evening with sustained winds of 75 km per hour and gusts of 130 km per hour during the night.
On Saturday afternoon we went down to the Villaggio Barcolana. The food bancarelle were almost all closed – with the bora winds the propane flames of the stoves used for cooking everything from ribs, to fried calamari, and pizzas were a fire hazard. The wind was tearing at the canvas tents of the bancarelle, selling sailing clothes and footwear, all manner of marine equipment from anchors to plastic wine glasses to shiny stainless steel barbecues and even cold weather gear from Winnipeg!
Given the strong winds there was a strong presence of public safety personnel. Especially interesting to see were all the water rescue dogs; Bernese, Labradors, Newfoundlanders, German Shepherds.
Despite the grey day and the winds, there were still a lot of people walking around. We fought our way not only through the crowds of people along the Mole Audace but also fought to keep upright as the bora gusts pushed us sideways. As we neared the far end of the Mole, the bora wind sheered across the water, slamming against the concrete sides of the mole and spraying us with a fine salty mist. All the “bancarelle” were shut down for public safety concerns at 4:30 on Saturday.
Sunday morning the bora had calmed down but was still a factor with its characteristic irregular winds. Prudently the organizers had pushed the start time for the regatta from 10:30 to 12:30. The skies were grey and cloudy. There were more than 1600 boats registered but understandably given the force of the winds the night before about 1100 boats were lined up as the gunshot went off to start the regatta.
We went by motorcycle to Opicina and then Prosecco to be high enough up to get a good view of the Gulf of Trieste. It was a cool and windy ride! I don’t know if it was because we were looking down on the Gulf or because of the low light but the sky and water blended into one flat steel grey plane. There were lots of powerboats following the leader and even from up high we could see this chaotic pattern of white wake all around the leader. The winning boat had a 10 minute lead over its nearest rival so that after it rounded the first buoy it was framed by a thousand sails in the background – a splendid sight.
The sky was in constant change and finally the sun broke through and the last of the sailboats arrived at the finish line in full sunshine. The bora had “cleared” the skies and the colorful sails stood out crisp and clean against the mountains on the horizon. The finish line was in front of the Piazza Unita, almost like entering an arena, and the crowds gathered on the Mole Audace gave each crew a well-earned round of applause.