ITALY (eTN) – A team of 10 finalist top sail boats left the charming Favignana Island coast, off the Trapani mainland, Sicily, for their 438-nautical-mile contest. The glamorous sporting event will see the 10 contenders circumnavigate Sicily island from May 16-21 with pit stops at: Cefalù, Giardini Naxos (Taormina), Marzameni, and Sciacca, whose local communities are among the sponsors.
The defenders, Ninio (“baby” in Spanish) and Peppe Fornich, will face Whisky Echo, Sciù, Bonito, and Rainbow, the team associated with the Favignana Yacht Club (YCF). They will have to beware of Nella (Capodimonte Nautic Club), Elima (LNI Trapani Section), Bulbo Matto (CCR Lauria), Elifly, and Andromeda representing the Italian Military Navy – a strong F1-like team.
The “start” was preceded by a briefing to the sailing teams by the Air Force forecasters and the Red Cross representatives whose participation is essential in order to assure accurate and daily weather information and potential difficulties during the navigation, which is under constant observation.
On the security side, the President of YFC, Ms. Chiara Zarlocco, is very determined that each craft is equipped with a position director that allows the Red Cross and the coastal patrols to constantly monitor all competitors on possible difficulties and problems.
“The path is very long indeed and cannot be underestimated [for] the unexpected,” reminded Ms. Zarlocco, while commenting on an incident that occurred in 2009 when the wind took revenge over, inducing Pilot Matteo Miceli to jibe at 40 knots and breake the boom. Still, the bet on the 2011 edition is on Matteo Miceli, the idol of YFC.
It seems every effort is being made to keep the victory under the Italian flag and so reward the Presidency of the Italian Republic for sponsoring the event with a medal specifically dedicated as a prize for the final champion. This gesture of the President of the Italian Republic Mr. Napolitano is even more representative, because in a year so full of events celebrating the 150th anniversry of the Unification of Italy, he has chosen to shine a spotlight on the YCF and its sporting event, the Targa Florio of the Sea.
The importance of Targa Florio of the Sea has also received ackowlegement by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and a heartfelt message sent personally from Minister Franco Frattini to Ms. Zarlocco to pardon his absence. Also acknowledging this event is the autonomous region of Sicily and its Regional Sport Ministry, the Rgional Agriculture and Food Resources, the Councillor of Culture and identity of Sicily, and the province of Trapani. The Italian Navy, participating with the ship Andromeda, has granted legal aid to the event. Targa Florio of the Sea is under the auspices of IVF and the CONI (the Italian Ministry of Sports), Sicily section. In short, this is a sporting event that transcends time and immerses participants in the excitment of the event.
“The Targa Florio of the Sea,” declared President Zarlocco, “is cut for those who can face the sea with confidence, because the sea of Sicily is rough. It needs enthusiasm and will to challenge every marine weather event. The sporting enthusiasm is just one of the ingredients. It is not an easy event!”
Cefalù, Giardini Naxos, Marzameni, and Sciacca, the municipalities involved in the four pit stops, can testify to the excitment as they will attend to the arrival of the boats and salute “good wind” on their departure. On the ground, the energetic President of the YFC has organized a series of highly-attended events. There will be 600 children participating in the 3rd edition of the drawing competition, “I want to to go sailing around the world.” More than 500 drawings collected in the two previous editions added to this years’ entrants promises to be an exceptional collection – 29 classes participating with an average of 20 students per class.
When the boats – as is regulation – return to Favignana on May 21, the festival of color and gossip begins. A great gala, in collaboration with the superintendents of Council Heritage will close the stunning event celebrated within the magnificent premises of the establishment Florio, whose historical premises are where the tuna catch was manufactured and preserved in tins for the Italian and foreign markets. Florio is now a UNESCO site and is open to MICE initiatives.