Alfa Romeo is winner of Barcolana 40

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Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo Winner of Barcolana 40
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Neville Crichton's Alfa Romeo was the Winner of Barcolana 40 ahead of over 1,850 boats.

The first ever Barcolana took place in 1969, with 51 boats at the starting line – already a large number considering the number of sailing boats then present in the Gulf of Trieste. The first Autumn Cup was won by Commander Piero Napp from the Società Triestina della Vela: he was not yet aware that his boat Betelgeuse was to become a milestone in Barcolana history.

Predictions held true, with Alfa Romeo first but the overall trend of the race was surprising. The first five, Alfa Romeo, MaxiJena, Shosholoza, Banco Espirito Santo and Artemis, did not make any tactical mistake considering the great differences between the boats that clinched the first positions and the weather conditions forecast by meteorologists.

At the start the race took off at the two ends of the line, over one kilometer long.

On one side, Mitja Kosmina started with great decision sailing close to the wind (around 2 knots) near the coast with its Maxijena thanks to a perfect knowledge of the Gulf of Trieste. On the other side off-shore Miramare, Paolo Cian and Tommaso Chieffi, tactician and helmsman of Shosholoza, have chosen to leave all the competitors leeward, hoping in a some more wind at the first mark.

Alfa Romeo, instead, was lagging behind at the start in the central part of the race course with guest of honour John Elkann, who was enchanted by the extraordinary participation of people in the event. Crichton's boat sailed along the the first leg to reach a good speed.

Following the same tactics of the Slovenian crew captained by Kosmina, also Russell Coutts, three times America's Cup winner, sailed close to the coast and after the first half of the leg, when wind conditions were more favourable (slightly stronger in Slovene waters) he hoisted the gennaker of Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick De Barros' RC44. A perfect maneuver which enabled the boat, less than half the size of Alfa Romeo, to gain speed and turning second at the mark 7'30' after MaxiJena.

The Slovenian boat turned first around the buoy offshore Koper with a good advantage from all the others, followed by Banco Espirito Santo, Shining-Umag surprisingly third (winner of Barcolana 2000 with strong wind), Alfa Romeo fourth, with a 11'40' gap from MaxiJena, Sayonara of Roberto Bertocchi fifth.

Start of the 2008 Barcolana Race
Immediately after turning at the first mark the boats found a steady speed. A more constant wind enabled the yachts to move faster according to the boat length and sail surface. Half way of the second leg the International Jury decided to shorten the course so that a greater number of boats could cross the finish line, set at the mark offshore Miramare, within the time limit of 5.00pm.

In this way the last leg of the race was eliminated. A delicate choice which proved to be correct because the wind soon died out and the race was still open. MaxiJena in the second half of the last leg started a fight with Alfa Romeo who was catching up fast with its 100-foot grey hull. At this point just three manoeuvres and a bit of luck allowed Alfa Romeo to take the lead in the duel with Kosmina.

A sort of match race with boats lined on either side (about a hundred boats were near the finish line) which lasted for over half an hour. The advantage of the New Zealander yacht varied several times from one to four boat lengths. Crichton was able to keep concentrated in the crucial moment covering his opponent and coming in first. This is the fifth win for Alfa Romeo in Barcolana, the third consecutively, in about three hours.

Second, with the honours of war came extraordinary MaxiJena di Kosmina, who crossed the line after a little more than a minute. Third Shosholoza: the America’s Cup boat with patron Salvatore Sarno on board. A third place which shows how such a boat with the skill of talents such as Cian and Chieffi can reach the podium in the Autumn’s Cup.

Fourth incredible Russell Coutts who, with only a 44-metre boat gained a success far beyond expectations, winning in the class results, ahead of Artemis, the other RC44 that came in fifth with Dean Barker at the helm. He is Coutts’ student par excellence and grew up under his protective wing at the times of the victories with New Zealand in America’s Cup. An excellent result for Barker, but today sailing master Coutts has given another proof of his talent.

Barcolana 40 - Leading finishers

1. Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton
2. Maxi Jena, Mitja Kosmina
3. Shosholoza, Paolo Cian
4. Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick Monteiro de Barros
5. Artemis II, Dean Barker
6. Shining-Umag, Rajko Kujundic
7. Mdeot-Cinkarna-Credem, Alberto Bolzan
8. Ceefer, Igor HLah
9. Veliki Viharnik-Mobitel, Dusan Puh
10. SNAI, Lorenzo Bodini
11 TUTTA CARRARO
12 CAMPIONI DEL GARDA USHUAIA(OCS)
13 FANATIC
14 SAJONARA
15 I XE FIOI
16 HIROSHI CITTA' DI MILANO
17 GRIFO
18 AMIS
19 ROSS 1°
20 IDEA
21 HI 5 POLIMOR
22 PIU' BRAVA
23 SONIC/ASTRO
24 SILVER AGE (OCS)
25 FLY OUR DREAM
26 CHICA MAGNUM
27 CITTA' DI GRISOLERA
28 MUCILLAGINE ROSA
29 SATANASSO
30 LUOPS
31 BANCA GENERALI CAMPIONE DEL GARDA 2
32 DAMACO
33 AMOR
34 PILOT ITALIA QUICKLINE (OCS)
35 AUTO HOTEL WIVA
36 CATTIVIK
37 AMER SPORTS ONE-REVO
38 ALLIGATOR
39 IDRUSA
40 X DI MARGHERITA
41 AQUILA
42 AGAIN
43 BRAVISSIMA
44 MOONSHINE
45 PAOLA
46 TIBURON
47 DOBRO JUTRO
48 BOCINSKY
49 OTTOEMEZZO
50 CRO-A-SAIL