Little time is left until the European Raid 2022, the incredible journey from Rome to Strasbourg that members of the Club del Gommone will face on board a Nuova Jolly Prince 22. The 2800-mile itinerary will take in the cities of Genoa, Marseille, Bordeaux, Paris, London and Amsterdam before arriving at its final destination in France, and will involve thirty people divided into nine crews, each taking turns at the helm for 100-200 miles.
This is the fifth relay raid organized by the Club del Gommone: ” We organized the first one in 2017 – explains the president of the Club del Gommone Virginio Gandini – and it was a tour of Italy from Genoa to Venice, with upriver of the Po to Pavia. At the time, all the stages were solo, but by the following year the initiative had already attracted the interest of more members, so much so that we ended up having to split the sailing shifts first between two, then between three/four people”. In 2018 the raid became European with the Genoa-Gibraltar-Genoa itinerary, while in 2019 the Club del Gommone opted for the Genoa-Athens route with return to Pavia, still sailing up the Po.
“For the first three raids we had a 5-metre dinghy with a 40hp engine, then we got a bigger boat: after missing the 2020 edition because of the Covid, in 2021 we happily accepted the offer from the Nuova Jolly shipyard, which put a 6.5-metre Prince 22 at our disposal,” says Mr. Gandini. “With this excellent craft and a Suzuki 140hp engine, in 2021 we set off from Genoa to reach Kastellorizo in Turkey and then back again, on an itinerary we’ve named ‘Mediterranean’ in honour of Gabriele Salvatores’ film, which all sea lovers are familiar with. Since the Corinth Canal had collapsed, we had to sail around the Peloponnese on both the outward and return journeys, a total of 3,800 miles“.
This year’s itinerary will not be as long, but it will still be very impressive, touching on fascinating places such as the Gulf of Lion, the Bay of Biscay, the ascent of the Seine and a leg in London during Queen Elizabeth’s “Platinum Jubilee” celebrations, or the celebrations for her seventy years on the throne, which, Mr. Gandini says, “are making us struggle to find a mooring”.
For the 2022 European raid, members of the Club del Gommone will still be travelling on board a Nuova Jolly Prince 22 (“we’ve got on very well and don’t intend to change,” explains Mr. Gandini, “even if it means offending the line of manufacturers who have offered us other boats”), but equipped with a more powerful engine than last year’s, a Suzuki 200 hp.
Like its predecessors, the 2022 European raid has a very important educational value: “Some members who were new to sailing have learnt from the experience of the raids and have taken the helm,” argues the President of the Club del Gommone. What’s more, raids of this kind are able to show how everyone can cruise safely in order to enjoy the beauty of the sea and the land that the old continent offers so abundantly.
The 2022 European raid, of course, will not be the last. Mr. Gandini concludes: “Next year we would have liked to return to the coast of Turkey, but the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine makes certain areas unreliable, so we will have to change our itinerary. For 2024, however, I can already announce that we intend to go to Paris for the Olympics, but with a more challenging itinerary than the previous ones, which will involve circumnavigating Spain and Portugal”.