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In October 2003 I participated in the Barcolana Regatta in Trieste, Italy. Together with a Croatian sailing team from Ultra Sailing in Split we first sailed from Split to Trieste in 5 days. After the regatta, we sailed back non-stop in 34 hours. 

Please click here to see our route! Our ship was a Bénéteau First 36.7

 

Day 1 : Split - Kaprije

Shortly after noon we leave Split harbour. There is some nice wind, and around sunset we reach the island of Kaprije. This is where we spend the night, moored along the breakwater in this small harbour.

 

Day 2 : Kaprije - Mali Lošinj

Early morning, we went to the only café to be found here that opens its doors outside the tourist season. Turkish coffee is all you get, but that is great for waking up. Most houses here are closed up – they look like holiday homes to me.

After coffee, we continue towards the north-west. The wind is south-east (Jugo), and increases during the day from 15 knots to 30 knots. Having the wind in our back, the weather is perfect for our large spinnaker. We keep it running for most of the day.

We cover some large distance today, approximately 75 nautical miles in 11 hours. It is already dark when we approach Mali Lošinj. The harbour entrance can be quite tricky to find after dark.

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Day 3 : Mali Lošinj - Rovinj

Wednesday 8 October we continued towards Rovinj in Istria. It was a heavy day, with winds up to 30 knots. Near the evening it got quieter, which enabled me to take a beautiful sunset picture. If anybody asks me what sailing is all about: it's moments like this!

Luckily we found a place in ACI Marina in Rovinj, which allowed our first shower in three days. I love sailing, but I like my regular shower as well... It was still quite busy here for after-season.

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Day 4 : Rovinj - Umag

On Thursday we sailed from Rovinj to Umag. There is not much wind today, so for most of the time we keep the motor running. Near Poreč a dolphin joined us for a while. But some fishing boats were more interesting for it (probably hoping for a free lunch).

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Day 5 : Umag - Triëste

On Friday we motored to Trieste from Umag. No wind. But Trieste is great. We were moored just outside the Marina. During a regatta, there is usually more fun outside the Marina... In town there were all sorts of concerts to enjoy. On the boulevard you can see the 'racing village', and there are all sorts of activities going on in town.

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Day 6 / 7 : Triëste

I still wonder who had more fun? The people on the quay watching us, or us watching the people on the quay? I guess it's us, after all we are the sailors and they are not... During this Saturday more and more yachts enter the harbour to participate in tomorrows’ race. Matko and Emil join our team today as well.

Sunday is ‘racing day’. Although… Given the total absence of wind it is more like a ‘floating day’. It is a strange sense of nervousness just before the start. Tension is building. Between 08.00 and 09.00 thousands of boat left the harbour and got ready to race. Just before the start, some journalists from Croatian TV and sailing magazines had a short interview with our skipper.

Never in my life have I shared one square kilometre of water with 2.000 other boats. Most of which had just one thing in mind: be as close as possible to the starting line at 10.00 AM. Unfortunately, no wind at all came today. By 16.00 we covered only 7 out of 18 miles. Time for a beer. Hardly anyone finishes the race this year.

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Day 8 / 9 : Trieste - Split

At 06.00 we left Trieste, arriving in Umag at around 08.30. Here we moor our boat at the customs pier for clearing. After that, time for coffee, breakfast, shopping, gas and fresh water. We had been out of fresh water since Sunday morning.

After this we continue in south-easterly direction. We do not have any wind again today. Late in the afternoon, just south of the Istria peninsula we were joined by a school of 10 - 15 dolphins. On one photo you can see three of them who swam in our bow wave for a couple of minutes. A bit later we receive a storm warning from Rijeka Radio.

Around 21:30 the wind increases from almost nothing to 30 knots from the northeast. Bura has arrived…! We hoist our sails and start a night of hard work and heavy (but wonderful) sailing. We have gusts of more than 40 knots. Our skipper has retreated to his bunk (flu), so it is just the four of us for the night.

Together with one of the younger guys I take the first watch. I take care of steering and navigation, he takes care of the sails. We have waves of around 2 meters, and the wind reaches force 9 to 10. Around 02:30 the other team takes over. Fully clothed in my heavy weather gear I go down to my cabin and immediately fall asleep. Around 07:00 in the morning I take over the rudder again. At noon the wind disappears just as it came: all of a sudden…

Fortunately our skipper feels better by now, and he takes over the rudder again. It’s a good chance for the four of us to catch up on some sleep – until we arrive in Split around 16:00.

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