Saturday, May 26, 2012

Venice - Sunday

ACWS Venice - Sunday
Written Monday, May 14, 2012
Venice, Italy

If I were to have gotten on a plane on Sunday night to head back to San Francisco, my trip would have been absolutely worth it from Sunday afternoon alone.
Where was I in the story ... oh yes ... I had stalked my way to the AC village and found my spot at the media center. 

I was booked onto a hospitality boat for the second day of the City of Venice regatta. There was one English speaking photographer on board with me. Everyone else was full on Italian.  It was a nice boat and as we headed out and around the lagoon toward St. Mark's Square, an Italian commentator was rambling on about ... well, I don't have any idea what he was saying. Every now and again I would pick up words like "Luna Rossa" or "Jimmy Spithill" but that was all I understood. Although there was a full race happening, we went straight to the finish line to claim our spot. It was here that we waited ... and waited ... and waited. This seemed to have been the theme for the day as the races themselves had been delayed a few times and here we were waiting again.
I took the opportunity of being out in the water in the middle of the mouth of the Grand Canal to just be a tourist. The Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark's Square, The Customs House, San Giorgio. These classic Italian landmarks were surrounding me. And that was ALL that was surrounding the boat. Suddenly I realized that there were NO OTHER BOATS in the basin of San Marco. Where were the water taxis? The gondolas? The barges that are constantly bringing supplies to or taking garbage from Venice? Gone. All of them gone. Cleared out in the middle of an afternoon and only our spectator boat was allowed in the middle of the basin.  Incredible.
Two support boats with Louis Vuitton branding and "finish" flags flying appeared and set up the finish line just off St. Mark's Square and in front of the Doge's Palace. A couple of other support boats were around, but still not many. Still we waited. I kept my eye on the horizon, and waited and watched ... and then I saw them. Just the tops - those wing extensions cutting above the trees of San Giorgio Maggiore Island as they raced up the Canal of San Marco. Around the bend they appeared with hulls flying - squeezing by each other in the confined space as they rushed toward the finish line, and my spectator boat. All nine AC45's, forced together in the continually restricted space. What an incredible sight to behold. With the classic Venice waterfront as their backdrop, these modern boats created an incredible scene. I just kept snapping away, hardly able to believe my own eyes.
And then it was over just as quickly as it had begun. The AC45's toured around a bit in the basin, but it was filling up quickly with spectators, support boats, police, coast guard, fans and of course us. I think that Loick Peyron of Energy Team was having the most fun. He did a few fly-bys - lifting a hull in front of the Doge's Palace - and just seemed like he was having a great time. As the AC45's left the basin and headed back down the Canal of San Marco, their entourage followed.  What a show!
Back to the media center and the AC Village - more Italian fans were there to welcome the boats back to the Arsenale. People strolled along the AC Village enjoying their aperitif and the setting sun. A band was playing, the village booths were open selling food, beverages, providing information and a variety of other products. A grandmother and grandson posed by a huge AC45 poster for a photo op, and the jumbo tron was playing videos from past events. Everyone was enjoying the day and the scene.

The sun had set and the jet lag was setting in so I headed back to my hotel. I found a great restaurant nearby where I enjoyed a glass of fine Italian wine, a caprese salad and fettuccine with sardines, the house special. It was DIVINE! With my tummy full, my eyes starting to close, I crawled into bed and slept full through to the next morning, hoping my jet lag was done. 
Monday's schedule was suppose to include the Healthy Ocean Project in the morning, but I got lost on my way to the AC Village.  
Next up:  The Classic Yacht Regatta.

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