Why take the leap to travel to a big event – a North Americans, a Europeans, a Worlds? Part of the fun of attending big events is traveling to new places and seeing new things. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Hobie 16 European Championships/Multiworlds on Lake Garda in Italy.
It was my first time visiting Italy. Did you see the Doma? The Parthenon? The Leaning Tower? Actually we chose the Lake-Garda-get-away path, because the landscape surrounding Lake Garda was, well, amazing. It’s one of those places where pictures cannot capture the 500 meter vertical rock faces opposed to the lake’s surface, or the cobblestoned, historic, and friendly atmosphere in the town. The sailing was fantastic, as forecast, but it was the venue that added layer upon layer to the experience. The boats were parked in the town square; we always took a break for lunch, with 2 options available: 1) a sit-down, 3-course Italian meal or 2) simply fresh-baked bread with savory meats and cheeses from the corner shop. After racing, we gathered in the square or back to the event tent for drinks, music, and a meal. Each day, we drove up and down this crazy, switch-backed road to reach our lodgings on top of one of the mountains. It was a bit of a drive but it quickly became part of the experience that we’ll always remember. (Friend me on Facebook and you can see what we captured with our iPhone, perched on the dashboard)
The sailing: competitive, windy, and picturesque. The combination of the Hobie 16 European Championships and the World championships for the Hobie 14, Dragoon, Tiger and Wildcat attracted 200 teams from 26 countries. Yes, the morning winds were iffy, but the afternoons met all expectations with 3-4 races easily completed. We observed classic lows and highs among the competitors – body language and decibel levels don’t hide much on the race course or in-between races, no matter the language. We made new friends, traded logo’d shirts, and expect to fall into step with these guys/girls at the next big event.
One Fleet of note was the Hobie 14. I was quite impressed with the number of competitors on the Hobie 14. This mirrors a similar resurgence in North America, where at a recent East Coast regatta, the 14s outnumbered the 16s. The conclusion is that that the boat continues to be interesting to racers.
So, bank your vacation, sock away some fun-money, buy a big rolling bag from LLBean. and keep an eye out for the next big Hobie event at a great venue (not) near you.