Every year, beautiful vintage and classic sailboats gather in Viareggio, the coastal city in Tuscany that is just one-hour drive away from Portovenere. Vele Storiche Viareggio takes place in the second half of October and is the most important end-of-season Mediterranean regatta and gathering of historic sailboats. Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with the president of Associazione Vele Storiche Viareggio, Gianni Fernandes.
What makes Vele Storiche Viareggio different from other events with historic boats?
The peculiarity of our event is characterized by different factors. First of all, it is the last event of the season reserved for vintage boats and this is why many shipowners and crews participate gladly. Another aspect is that fair play and friendliness never contrast with the healthy competitive spirit that you breathe during the regattas. And then, Vele Storiche Viareggio (VSV) is also made of cultural events related to boating and the sea, of themed painting and photographic exhibitions, and on Saturday night there is a convivial dinner that is open to all in the Francesco Del Carlo Shipyard.
How do you assess the historical value of the boats that participate in the event?
The very name of the association indicates an attention to the historical value rather than the age value. Certainly, wood and steel boats built prior to 1951, which are those referred to as vintage boats, always have the right to be declared of historical value, and the same applies for classic boats built as unique specimens until 1980. Other boats that have historical value, even if they are more recent and belong to the fiberglass series, are those that have made noteworthy achievements. There are also specific parameters to determine the historical value of standard boats. All the details are listed in the website of Vele Storiche Viareggio.
Can you tell us about some of the most particular or prestigious sailing boats that have participated in the 15 editions of the event?
To mention a few, without taking anything away from the many prestigious boats that we hosted throughout the years, I would highlight two centenary schooners, ORION and INVADER, that were over 50 meters long. These were the main attraction of the 15th edition of VSV, arousing the admiration of everyone not only for their beauty, but also because it was the first time ever that two vintage boats of such size and greatness were docked one next to the other in Viareggio. On our website, under the “Fleet” section you can find a list of all the boats that have participated in our rallies since 2005.
When will the 2020 edition of Vele Storiche Viareggio be held?
As of late October 2019, the calendar for the next season has not yet been defined, but in all probability the XVI Gathering Historic Sailboats in Viareggio will take place from 15 to 18 October 2020, the week after the Barcolana in Trieste.
Photos by Marco Trainotti, courtesy of Associazione Vele Storiche Viareggio