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Hundreds of boats compete in the historic Barcolana Regatta

What started off as in informal race between 51 locals in 1969 is now officially the largest sailing race in the world after the Barcolana Regatta attracted 2,689 participants in 2018.

And this year, 50 years on, the event lived up to its title as thousands of yachts turned the Gulf of Trieste into the unofficial sailing capital of Europe. 

The gathering is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the Mediterranean and more than 2,000 boats and 15,000 sailors from Australia, the UK, the USA, Korea, Ukraine and China took part today.

The start line is traditionally underneath the Victory Lighthouse, built in 1927 to light the Gulf and serve as a monument to those killed in World War One.

Sailors lined up to compete along a two-mile start line stretching from the lighthouse and Miramare Castle.

Everyone from brave amateurs all the way up to world-class helmsmen can take part in the race which is always held on the second Sunday of October.

Trieste transforms for the 11-day event, that culminated today, with more than 200 temporary stores and hospitality stands and more than 350 events happening across the city.

The symbol for this year's event is a large sardine (typical of the Adriatic sea) that is made of 10,000 plastic bottles collected by locals this summer.

'Way of Life', sailed by Zan Luka Zelko from Slovenia and Gasper Vincec from Finland won the race in one hour, 54 minutes and ten seconds.

The chairman of the sailing club Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano Mitja Gialuz said: 'We are proud of Trieste and Barcolana.

'Our job is to organize an inclusive event, in order to share our passion for the sea and to promote Trieste and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region: sailors, crews, our public, and the whole city of Trieste are joining us in this great sea celebration, where we will also talk about environmental protection, respect for the sea and tradition. 

'A renewed and great celebration that has introduced many innovations too, this year.'

The Barcolana Regatta in the Gulf of Trieste attracted more than 2,000 boats and 15,000 sailors from Australia, the UK, the USA, Korea, Ukraine and China

The event started off as in informal race between 51 locals in 1969 and is now officially the largest sailing race in the world

Guinness World Records granted the race the impressive title after the Barcolana Regatta attracted 2,689 participants in 2018

On your marks: The boats line up in an almost perfectly straight line as they await the start of the 51st Barcolana Regatta

Sailors lined up to compete along a two-mile start line stretching from the Vittoria (Victory) Lighthouse and Miramare Castle

Participants line up along the start line, which is traditionally underneath the Victory Lighthouse which serves as a monument to those killed in World War One

The 23-foot-tall lighthouse is one of the tallest in the world and was built in 1927 to light up the Gulf of Trieste. It was designed by local architect Arduino Berlam

Spectators with cameras gather to watch the boats compete in the annual sailing race in the Gulf of Trieste. Organisers have described the event as 'everybody's regatta'

Everyone from brave amateurs all the way up to world-class helmsmen can take part in the race which is always held on the second Sunday of October

'Way of Life' sails on his way to win the 51st Barcolana Regatta. It was sailed by Zan Luka Zelko from Slovenia and Gasper Vincec from Finland

The team behind 'Way of Life' won the race in one hour, 54 minutes and ten seconds. The boat was also the winner of the 2009 competition

Trieste transforms for the 11-day event with more than 200 temporary stores and hospitality stands and more than 350 events happening across the city

A helicopter flies over the boats sailing in the competition. The symbol for this year's event is a large sardine (typical of the Adriatic sea) that is made of 10,000 plastic bottles collected by locals this summer

The chairman of the sailing club Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano Mitja Gialuz said: 'We are proud of Trieste and Barcolana'

Mr Gialuz added: 'Our job is to organize an inclusive event, in order to share our passion for the sea and to promote Trieste and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region'

Mr Gialuz said the event is 'a renewed and great celebration that has introduced many innovations too, this year'

Ocean sailor Vicky Song, from China holds the wheel as she sails the regatta boat 'Woodpecker' in front of the port of Trieste

Boats can be seen surrounding the winning vessel as it competed in the highly-anticipated event

Boats filled with people follow the winner as it sails along the Gulf of Trieste. Smaller vessels, and what appear to be jet skis, join in on the parade

Huge crowds gather with binoculars to watch the boats as they sail along the coast. Hundreds of people turned out to watch the event

A yellow boat with orange and red sails crosses the path of hundreds of white-sailed ships as they take part in the race

A helicopter can be seen flying overhead as the boats take part. The 11-day event also hosted discussions on environmental protection, respect for the sea and tradition

Italian Navy school ship 'Amerigo Vespucci' is docked on a pier of the port of Trieste on Friday after its arrival to celebrate the start of the regatta

A member of the Regatta boat 'Golfo di Trieste' with an all international female crew, sails ahead of the start of today's event

A member of Golfo di Trieste climbs the sail on Saturday. The boat's crew was from seven different countries

Spectacular aerial views show rows of caravans lining the streets of the north-east Italy city. Yachts are seen floating on the water in the distance

The Gulf of Trieste became the unofficial sailing capital of Europe for an 11-day extravaganza that culminated today

Incredible images show the immense number of vessels that went out to sea for the annual event in Italy

Rows of vessels stretch as far as the eye can see showing the huge scale of the world's largest sailing race

In the spirit of participation, the last boat to cross the finish line will be symbolically awarded a special trophy

The channels who broadcasted the event include British BT Sport and the Nautical Channel as well as Italian television channels

Boats can be seen docked in the port of Trieste on Friday evening. The main race fell on Sunday and mild winds were expected

Incredible hillside views could be seen from the water as two boats sale in the regatta

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