by Rob Burn
Words describing our first Italian experiences.
A very long drive from Austria after some fond farewells to the rest of our NZL 420 Worlds Team, we are missing them here in Riva del Garda. We popped into Venice as you would, eventually found the car park building and the train across the water to the sinking city.
In the searing afternoon heat the three of us managed to knock it off our Bucket list but in all fairness, we could have spent days there not hours. One important fact, you are not allowed to be shirtless.....
We got into Riva at the head of Lake Garda later in the evening, found our hotel a few kms away from the Yacht Club and tried to sleep in the heat. The town is so beautiful and so cool, even the Police are on Segways patrolling the streets ...maybe it was the parking people.....? The town is very busy as it should be for the height of Summer and a premier destination.
What impresses me is the amount of effort that goes into cycling in all forms and the love they have for their dogs.. The cyclists share the footpaths, helmetless and almost everybody has a dog, even in the very nice yacht club restaurant. There are cycle hire places everywhere and the rates are stiff, Euro 30 per day for a Mountain bike. The town attracts coachloads of cyclists towing trailers of their own bikes too. All the old roads around the sheer cliffs and tunnels, WW1 fortifications etc have been turned into fabulous mountain biking trails and walks. Imagine if we turned the Snout in Picton into a series of proper biking trails and improved the Queen Charlotte Track further?
Taylor and Oscar got a new charter boat here so that takes at least a stressful day of setting up. Measurement came next and as I had been drafted into the ranks of 'Official Measurers', I did manage to slip our guys in ahead of schedule ....such as there was. Two days of working in a huge tent in 30degC plus, is always great for the humour, but it made for some good workmates, if fact I may be made an Israeli Team member and go out on their coach boat tomorrow ...the Team seem to like the smattering of Hebrew given back to them.
Practice race and Opening Ceremony was last night. Practice should have been fabulous with the the great breeze but as always, a good start, just getting to the top mark when the first drops of rain fall, then the heavens opened, torrential down pour and it was all over, rover.
By 6pm the sun was back out and the Teams lined up with their Country Flags and signs ready to march. But not before we had paid our E20 bond on the flag...
Italians are wonderful at parades. Big Brass marching band, lots of smiling police to stop all the traffic and a march through to the main tourist square a few blocks away. We walked through all the restaurants outdoor areas, everyone well dressed and enjoying the spectacle of several hundred sailors in both the 420 and 470 Junior European Championships.
It was a proud moment for us Kiwis when the Opening speeches congratulated our girls, Jo and Polly for their Gold Medal win. And of course, the Aussies too. A drink and dinner and home to bed.
Race day today, just launched and they are on the track waiting to start. Light breeze so far so we will see what happens.
A huge thank you to all our supporters and sponsors, thank you for the emails coming in as well, my apologies if I haven't answered personally yet.