ACWS Venice - Monday to Tuesday, May 14 & 15, 2012
Written Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The beginning of my week in Venice was a bit quiet as the actual ACWS event didn't start until Thursday. I decided to spend a little extra time in Venice, and did want to catch the events during the weekend before the ACWS. Other than just being a tourist, there are other activities that kept me busy during the early part of the week.
I missed the opportunity to head out for the Healthy Oceans Project Monday morning. You see, the front gate or main entrance to the AC Village doesn't open until 10:00 am. The Media Center, however, opens at 9:00 am and the Healthy Oceans Project departure was at 9:00 am from the media center. So, I would have had to come in using "back way". You would think that all you have to do is walk to the back side of the buildings to get to the back entrance. This is Venice. Not so easy. Remember there are those canals, and streets that just end, and sometimes you'll find a bridge but sometimes you don't, so you try to backtrack without getting lost, but then you are - just lost. Again, this is Venice so being lost is not so bad, unless you need to be somewhere at a certain time. I was lost. I didn't make it.
There were two options for Monday afternoon. The first was to attend the Cichettata Osterie - a lunch time street party with food offered by the Venice restaurant association. This was a 600 seat long table set up for all to enjoy. Sounded incredible and from those that attended, they said it was a great three course meal and that more than 600 people attended as people would sit down, eat, leave, others would sit down, eat, etc. This would have been a great photo op, I'm sure, however I had to pass on this event.
Also on Monday afternoon was the Leone di San Mario Vela al Regatta or Classic Yacht Regatta. I'm sure you'll find it no surprise that I opted for the on-water choice for the day. This was a Venetian traditional sail boat regatta organized by the Associazione Vela al Terzo and one sailor per AC World Series team was to be part of the crews participating in the regatta. The race was to take place on the San Marco Basin. Yes - this was the option for me.
Back to the same hospitality boat I was on the day before, and back to a boat filled with Italian journalists who barely spoke English. This time there were no other English speaking journalist on board so it was a bit of a quiet afternoon for me. I really had no idea what to expect as I didn't know what a traditional Venetian sail boat looked like nor did I know how many boats would be out. As it turns out, there were about fifty of these three to four person boats sailing in the basin for the regatta. This was clearly NOT a one design fleet as the boats seemed to be somewhat different shapes and sizes. I was trying to figure out where the start line was and the course. According to the sailing instructions the course was to start, do two sausages or loops, then finish. But when the starting horn was sounded, there were boats already over what I thought was the start line, and then others were hanging back - for a second start perhaps? But no, there was only one start or was that the start? Or were they racing now and where were they going? And then for the sausages it appeared that some boats were going one way and others a different way and some were going up wind and some down wind and some just across the middle and honestly I just had absolutely no idea what was going on. I've been sailboat racing for a while and think I have a pretty good understanding of how the races work but this ... this I could not figure out. I needed a little Stan Honey Live Line Graphics to figure out that whole situation! (On a side note - I happened to run into Stan the next morning and told him as much! He laughed and said that was quite a compliment.)
But still, a beautiful event with that incredible Venetian waterfront backdrop. The weather was perfect and it was a gorgeous afternoon on the water. I think I chose wisely.
Back to the media center, then dinner with a new friend from the media center and a yacht club member who happened to work for AC Race Management. We went to a quaint little place down near the Rialto Bridge. Homemade gnocchi with a salmon sauce that just melted in my mouth, and plenty of English conversation. A stroll over the Rialto Bridge, window shopping through the windy streets, across to St. Mark's Square where the battling cafe orchestras were giving it one last go for the night, and finally to my hotel for another peaceful nights rest.
Tuesday morning I awoke a bit late (maybe I was not quite over the jet lag) and opted to just take my time. I would just take the short route to the AC Village using the 10:00 am main entrance. To get to the front entrance I simply head to the Grand Canal which is just a block from my hotel, take a left, cross over a few canals and when I get to Larry's boat (which you can't miss) you turn left again for the brief stroll to the main entrance. SO EASY. No chance of getting lost. Tuesday morning at 11:00 am was the opening press conference with all the skippers and that is what I would attend. Everyone stated they were excited about the venue and looking forward to some good racing starting on Thursday.
After that, I took a little time "off" to play tourist in Venice.