30 days left to the beginning of one of the most charming regattas in the Mediterranean Sea, the Roma X2, XTutti e X1 (Rome for 2, for everyone and for one single person). And while the organisational machinery speeds up and the number of participants increases, Boatandboats starts to tell this wonderdul competition from the beginning, when, 22 years ago, a group of friends started to dream about this new adventure. Among them, there was Pasquale De Gregorio, one of the Italian sailors who completed the Vendée Globe, in addition to Simone Bianchetti and Alessandro Di Benedetto.
” We had been having the idea of a long regatta in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a little like the 500×2 in the Adriatic, for some time. In particular, Giorgio Casti, Bolina’s director, and Roberto Mannucci imagined something which had Fiumicino as its starting point. When they proposed the idea to me, I suggested something bigger which was able to attract foreign boats, too.
So, in spring 1994, we started this adventure. In only few weeks, the organisational group and the committee were born, with De Gregorio, Mannucci, Paolo Venanzangeli and Massimo Di Noto, who started to work in order to create a very important event.
“When I started to plan Roma Per.. – Pasquale De Gregorio tells – I was returning from the first globe rally organised by Jimmy Cornell in 1992. The team was made up of me, two guys and a non-professional crew. I realized that all my regattas in the Adriatic Sea had been a wonderful training ground which allowed to me to sail around the world without any problem. When I started to organise the Roma x2, I wanted to create an event and a training ground. The regatta was supposed to be not only a competition but also a training opportunity for all participants, both in the boat preparation phase and in the competition”
The group started to work frantically , as De Gregorio remembers, because there was only a little time to create everything from nothing, from the itinerary to the guidelines, the start and arrival harbour. The previous idea of Fiumicino was abandoned and we chose Riva di Traiano instead because it was a new and well-equipped harbour, it didn’t have the same entrance and exit problems than Fiumara Grande and Fiumicino and it could offer high comfort and safety standards.
When on April 25th 1994, the 53 boats ( on 63 enrolled boats) left for Lipari after the cannon shot, those who attended the event swear they felt a thrill.
” At the beginning, we had some doubts about the outcome – Pasquale De Gregorio remembers – but during the following weeks we started having more trust. But I think that none of us imagined such a great success of that day and the increase in the following years. The credit of the regatta belongs to the people who have continued to organise it, by maintaining a very high technical level and by involving both experts and family teams. Everybody is well-trained but all participants want to live a great emotion more than a simple competition”
The first regatta was attended by a great fan of regattas, Carlo di Mottola, who said to Paolo Venanzangeli: ” We must organise it also for teams”. So, the following year, it was the turn of RomaXTutti (Rome for everyone). The winner was Mottola. He was 84 and he was the oldest participant. When he stepped to the podium, with the help of his walking stick (he had fallen from his horse), he was greeted with an endless applause. The first edition of RomaX2 (Rome for 2 people) was won by Giovanni Soldini, on his Kodac 50, together with Pietro Quintavalle. And in the following 22 years, the competition has always seen big sailors. A very important event but, as De Gregorio says, an excellent training ground, too.
“Participating to this regatta in couple – De Gregorio explains – means to train to solo regattas. Because when you sail alone while your companion is having a rest, you must work and solve problems all by yourself. In the following years, the competition saw great experts like Vittorio Malingri, Isabelle Autissier, Pierre Sicouri, Andrea Mura, Guido Maisto, Pietro D’Alì, Francesco Mura, Matteo Miceli among its participants.
It has also been the regatta of records: in 2001, Bruno Peyron and Skip Novak took only 37 hours, 48 minutes and 24 seconds to complete it.
This year, Pasquale De Gregorio will be present the day before at the briefing bu he won’t take part to the competition.
” I sold my 45-foot boat – he says – and now I’m looking for a smaller boat, a 35-foot one, to sail with my wife and some friends only to have some good time. Then,who knows. But Riva di Traiano is my home and the regatta…. is in my heart.
” According to you, who must participate and who not?”, we ask him.
” It’s not a good idea for beginners or if you don’t have enough time to prepare your boat. On the contrary, I suggest it to all those who want to know their boat, make this excellent training experience, improve their sailing skills and face the Mediterrean, a sea which teaches a lot and that must be listened with great seriousness and competence”