by Elena Giolai
Racing for the first time in Italy at the Garda Trentino Olympic Week is the new Olympic Sailing Class for women, the 49erFX, with a fiercely competitive international fleet. Also present here are all three of the Paralympic boats, the 2.4, the Sonar and the Skud.
Women’s 49erFX Gold fleet, 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France
Wednesday 7th May marks the start of the ‘Garda Trentino Olympic Week’, first round of the Eurosaf Champions Sailing Cup, organised by ‘Vela Garda Trentino’ with its associated sailing clubs Fraglia Vela Riva, Lega Navale Italiana, Circolo Vela Arco, Circolo Surf Torbole and the Fraglia Vela Malcesine. The boats racing here represent the very pinnacle in sailing and gather together athletes from around the world who will be giving their all to achieve the dream of eventual Olympic success. This then sets the scene here in Alto Garda with the towns of Riva, Torbole and Malcesine. The circus then moves on to Northern Europe for subsequent rounds in Holland, Great Britain, Germany and France.
Introduced for the first time in Garda Trentino last year was the Nacra 17 class with its mixed crew. This year for the first time, we have the new all-female class boat the 49erFX which is a very fast skiff which alongside to the male version of the boat 49er, adds an increasingly spectacular dimension to Olympic sailing. In fact in the 2013 edition of this regatta, we had no boats at all registered in this class because it was a bit too soon for a newly formed class with a high level of technical difficulty. This year however, starting on Wednesday 7th of May, and finishing on Sunday 11th, we are expecting fierce competition from all the athletes who previously competed at the World Cup in Palma and Hyeres. Leading this pack are the Brazilians Martine Soffiatti Grael and Kahena Kunze - winners in both Spain and France. From amongst the other crews who achieved podium positions in the World Cup, we have the English crew Dobson – Ainsworth (Bronze in Palma) and the New Zealanders Maloney – Meech (Silver in Hyeres).
Also here on Garda is the Australian Olivia Price, winner of a match race silver medal in the London Olympics, who has now moved on into the 49erFX class. In amongst this very strong field there are the Italian sailors Conti – Clapcich, Tezza – Bergamasco, Raggio – Conti and Genesio – Volpi whose results are steadily improving.
This regatta week is a truly international event with a high number of participating nations, this year we have 48 represented in contrast to last year’s 43.
The 49er and 49erFX classes as well as the 470 male and female classes are based at the Fraglia Vela Riva with the support of the Lega Navale Italiana of Riva. The large Laser fleet are based at the Circolo Vela Arco and the RS:X fleet are based at the Circolo Surf Torbole. The Nacra 17 and the Paralympic classes are hosted at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine.
We have a veritable invasion of famous Olympians here in ‘Alto Garda’ like Brazilian Robert Scheidt who after numerous Olympic medals and world titles is once again in the mix for the Olympics in Rio in 2016. The Brazilians are well-represented especially in the 49erFX and 470 where they are very aware of the pressure on them to do well in what is their home Olympics. For the Italians, it is really a case of changing generations with new younger sailors taking the places of their older compatriots. In the Nacra 17 class we have the Italian crew of Bissaro – Sicouri who were already highly successful in the World Cup are at present leading in the ISAF rankings, as is Flavia Tartaglini who is competing in the RS:X class.
Tuesday at 18.30 is the opening ceremony and the first races takes place on Wednesday. The Medal Race will take place on Sunday 11th and will involve the top 10 in every class; these races will be streamed on the official website.