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My company imports plastic playing cards from Italy. Our manufacturer is locted in the city of Trieste in Italy, 2 hours from Venice on the Adriatic sea and on the boarder with Slovenai.

For well over a year our supplier's boss kept inviting us to their city for the weekend of October 7-8 to see their Barcolana. Barcolana is the world's largest sailboat race that takes place once a year on the 2nd Sunday in October. Small and large sailboats from all over Europe and the world come to Trieste for this event. It is just an amateur race with no prize other than the records and honorable mentions.

I was not planning to go but my partner was going, but a few days before the race I received an email from our supplier's son telling me that I could join them in their sailboat. That I could not refuse as that was chance of a lifetime to participate in such a fun and unique event. I quickly got a cheap ticket to Italy and off I went.

It was truly a spectacle to see. The city of Trieste itself is beautiful with Austrain architecture as it was owned by the Austria until 1918 when they lost the war and it went to Italy. But the true spectacle was seeing the hundreds upon hundreds of sailboats that were docked at the port. We arrived on Friday evening and the streets of this small city was packed with sailors and tourists. Mostly there just for fun and some with corporate sponsors like BMW, Alfa Romeo, etc.

We met our sailing team of 10 young Italian professionals (mostly attorneys, and PHD and master students) the next day for lunch in the Trieste Sailing club and planned to meet the next morning at 8 AM to sail to the starting point.

Sunday, the race or Regata day was windy with temperature in mid 60s. We all got on the small 34ft sailboat and loaded our cargo of about 10 bottles of white wine and champage, and other liquors, Italian cheeses and salamis, and other Italian goodies.

The regata started at 10 AM with 1998 sailboats participating. Just imagine fitting about 2000 sailboats in a small port on the Adriatic sea. It was spectacular. There was no rules for the size or sofostication of sailboats. There were boats at the level of America's Cup sponsored by Alfa Romeo and others, lots and lots of small boats like ours, and even 14 or 15 year old boys or girls sailing in a miniscule single person boat. See the over 270 pictures below to get a feel of it.

http://www.barcolana-press.com/imglist.asp?idEvent=62&pagenum=3

If your Italian is good, go to the home page above and read all about the Barcolana 38.

As soon as we started the race, our onboard self designated host started serving us with fine Italian coffee and capucino for breakfast. Of course, soon we swithed to wine and champagne and risoto and cheese.

The race was was supposed to be 25 nautical miles long in a triangle shaped route. By the time we got to the first corner to turn, we were already in Slovenia waters. The point of turn was another spectacle to see. Hundreds of boats jammed in a small area trying to make a 150 degree turn to go the other way. You could see lots of boats softly crashing into each other but fortunately no damages or bad accidents.

The first place team was one of the 110 ft boats sponsored by Alfa Romeo. I think they finished in about 1.5 hours. I am embarrassed to say that we took a full 7 hours. Of course, I am sure the Alfa Romeo team didnlt have as much fun as we had with our bottles of wine and champagne.

I must say this was a short trip that I will never forget and I recommend it to all. You can charter a sailboat and participate in the Barcolana with a group of friends and just have fun. We might just do that next year.

Another interesting thing about Trieste. 10 miles from Trieste at a nearby port is where they manufacture the world's largest luxury cruiseliners. I donlt know if it is true but I was told that 80% of the super luxury cruise ships like those used by Carnival and Royal Carribean are designed and manufactured in Trieste, Italy. On our train ride back to Venice from Trieste we passed this port and you could see ongoing work on a Royal Carribean cruise liner.

cheers,

Mehran
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