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The Tales the River Told

Chris Davies on 8th June 2021

After 10 years the classic signature motor nautical event, Raid Pavia-Venezia returned to the waters of the River Po in Italy.

Extremely low water conditions, lack of sponsors, plagues of alterations and COVID-19 related issues did not stop this international sporting event.

On June 06, 2021 they race!

Champions, legends, teams of family members and friends, all present in a spectacular display of unique motorboats.

No lack of passion or enthusiasm was present.

A true community of pilots came together.

Participants from France, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK and Italy, 92 registrations in all, racing in the world’s longest and oldest motor nautical event.

Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

There were delays, disappointments, near disasters but nothing could shake the grand success of the results of this magnificent day.

Time was defined only by the modern vehicles towing the procession of motor boats through the small townships.

Their arrival threaded the narrow country roads of Pavia, fresh cut wheat fields scented the air, June poppies decorated the roadsides, Medieval towers and castles dotted the poetic countryside.

The local residents, stood outside the Italian bars and trattorias, waving from terraces, cars, tractors and bicycles as the pageantry of boats passed through town.

Liken to a historical parade, there were champions, legends, ‘young knights’, gladiators of F1 and F2 and beautiful courageous ladies.

The bond between owners and boats was duly noted as they arrived in the paddocks of the river Po in Pavia.

Crews were limited as required quarantines prevented many from traveling.

Those that arrived, arrived with great difficulty.

A new appreciation for the motor nautical sport of powerboating was apparent as the long separation between boat and driver due to the COVID-19 shut downs was over, at least for now.

A unique collection of drivers and boats were present.

A young knight of the River Po, Guglielmo Martinelli, age 19 and his mother Laura Pertusini, a nurse who served on the front line of COVID-19, raced a ‘Keep Your Distance’ Rigid Inflatable Hull.

A name/sponsor significant to the regulations of Covid-19.

Laura Pertusini, an Italian nurse who served on the front line of COVID-19

Laura adopted the name ‘Flying Nurse’; as she and Guglielmo soared, finishing in a strong position, clocking 93 km/h per hour in their very first race.

A great delight to Grandfather Saverio Petrusini, a former motor nautical champion of Lake Como, Italy who anticipated a call from Pavia, noting the final results.

Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, friends with a long-term relationship between speed and water all came forth.

The Legends as Drew Langdon who arrived with Gina Campbell’s former Phantom, ‘Bluebird’ and one of the Raid’s most noted ‘Gladiators’, Guido Cappellini experienced great disappointments as their Mercury motors failed their conquering of the River Po in speed and exhibition.

A champion’s spirit cannot be broken and an anticipated return to the future Raid Pavia Venezia awaits.
The 69th Raid Pavia-Venezia was a celebration for all.

Once the race began, the shores of the River Po were lined with supportive spectators, who cheered on the roar of the historic and revolutionary powerful engines.

All waiting with anticipation under the hot June Italian sun.

Sandbars were abundant and the deep veins of channelled water were few.

A conquest not conquered by all.

Forty percent of the boats did not arrive at their final destination during this 414 km point to point race.

An applause for the Raid Pavia-Venezia results! Victors as Gianluca Carli, a young and handsome Venetian pilot, claimed speeds up to 168 km/h in a powerful orange and white Formula 2 and took home the coveted, Coppa Montellera.

Paolo Romagnoli piloting a1957 Alfa Romeo, designed in graphite grey and rich mahogany wood.

The 3-point hydroplane, skimmed the waters at an average speed of 142km/h taking 2nd.

The Bacchi family, father and son raced at a consistent 139km/h winning a third position in a 5 litre Catamaran.

The 2005 Raid Pavia-Venezia speed record of Dino Zantelli, 203 km/h remains untouched.

The Salone Nautico Venezia hosted the presentation of honours coupled with a successful boat show that saw over 30,000 participants and 160 exhibitors.

The slow, empty days of COVID-19 shutdowns seem to disappear with the launch of the Raid Pavia Venezia.
Compliments to the key organizers, Angelo Poma and Giampaolo Montavoci who personalized this challenging event with their humour, skills and their undying passion for powerboating on the River Po.


Thanks from Powerboat Racing World to Cindy Wirth for this article.

Cindy in the Pavia dry pits
Photo: Club nautico LE GABBIANE

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