The 15th edition of the long distance Silver Skiff Race took place in Turin on Sunday 12th November. Unfortunately, because of the thick fog that unexpectedly fell on the course right at the start, the visibility was suddenly reduced to a few metres.
The jury was therefore forced to postpone the start several times until finally, at 12 noon, the fog cleared away and the sun made a timid appearance through the clouds, thus allowing 360 scullers, aged from 18 to 80 years, among whom 4 Olympic winners and 55 world gold medalists, to line up before the start. Then, at 20 seconds interval, they dashed off to cover the 11 km. course of the race.
For quite a bit, the temporary results led everybody to believe that the race was going to be a private Scandinavian affair between the Swede Lassi Karonen and the Norvegian Olaf Tuffe. But when the Kiwi Mahe Drysdale - the 2005 and 2006 world champion who, as a newcomer, started from an awkward 162nd position, which forced him to continuously overtake scores of other scullers, who also hampered him in more than one case - got to the finish, the stop watch showed that not only was he half a minute ahead of the two Scandinavians, but that he had also established the new course record in 40' 32". Drysdale's mighty performance leaves no doubts about him having no rivals for the time being.
The finishing order shows therefore Drysdale ahead of Lassi Karonen and Olaf Tufte who completed the course in 41'04" and 41'08" respectively, followed by Elia Luini, Italian gold medal sculler, in 41'33"; American LW Steve Tucker in 41'59"; German Matthias Scholmann Finck (42'01"); Esthonian JÜri Jaanson (42'03"); Italians Bertini and Pettinari (42'09" and 42'11"); Dutch Geert Cirkel (42'13"); another Swede, Paul Rosenquist, (42'33"); Italian Daniele Gilardoni (42'35"); Swiss Michael Schmidt (42'37"); Dutch Sjoerd Hamburger (42'46"); etc. etc. As for the women Ekaterina Karsten won yet again, as in 2005, beating the strong American Michelle Guerette by 54", with the record time of 45'04", followed by Norwegian Marianne Nordhal (46'16"); Italian Gabriella Buscelli (46'25"); Swiss Sara Hofmann (46'47"); Slovenian Majda Jerman (46'58"); Italian Elisabetta Brugo (47'46"); and American Ellen Kennelly (48'01"); etc. etc.
A large number of Masters also joined the Silver Skiff Regatta: this is an typical peculiarity of the race which, from its beginning in 1992, was reserved to veterans only and was only opened up to all categories from 1996 onwards. Among them we would like to mention the performances of Claudio Cecconi (MC, 45'05"); Marcello Valoncini (MB, 45'14"); Sean Siclair (Northampton R.C., MB 45'26"); Beppe Girone (MF, 46'52"), the several times Italian gold medallist of the late Sixties); Willy Koska (MF, the well known organizer of the equally popular Klagenfurt Regatta: "Rose vom WÖrthersee"); the Americans John Flory (MF, 47'41") and Carlo Zezza (MH, 48'47"); and the remarkable performance of the 81 year old formerly 1948 and 1952 Olympic finalist Achille Giovannoni from France, who, despite having his boat badly damaged and filled with water, still managed to complete the course in 52'53".
All together, also including some 180 children aged 11 to 14 years, who raced the day before in the Kinder Skiff Regatta, 540 scullers gave birth to a memorable "kermesse" on the river Po, which will be long remembered by all those who took part.