Between October 6 and October 14, a sailing race trumpeted as Europe’s biggest will unfold off Italy’s coast. The Barcolana Regatta, or the Coppa d’Autunno (Autumn Cup) is also dubbed the world’s largest single-start sailing race.
The spectacle randomly pits hardcore sailing families against professional teams. Entrants compete in sailboats of all shapes and sizes in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Trieste in the Mediterranean Sea’s extreme north.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators turn up, their appetites whetted by the prospect of beginners battling experts in classic underdog style. Competitors in the David and Goliath race cover some 16 nautical miles. Last year’s winner, Esimit Europa 2, was manned by sailors from six different countries and finished the race in just under an hour.
When the race kicked off for the first time in 1969, just 51 boats stood at the start. Now, some 2,000 enter the race and the roster has widened from local yacht clubs to include competitors from nearby Slovenia, Croatia and even as far as Australia. Some skippers who grace The Barcolana Regatta are said to be world-class.
Still, the Barcolana Regatta does not take itself too seriously. Accompanying onshore entertainment ranges from a nautical fair to piazza parties.
Ah, la dolce vita.