Luna Rossa: who will the Youth America's Cup sailors be?
Luna Rossa: who will the Youth America's Cup sailors be?
After evaluating the most promising profiles, Team Director Max Sirena will confirm the names of the participants in the youth and women's regattas for Barcelona 2024.
With the conclusion of the second Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Youth Camp (February 6 - 12), the first observation program of young talented sailors, organized by the Italian challenger at its operations base in Cagliari, comes to an end.
The project - divided into two stages of one week each - involved a total of thirty under-25 athletes (boys and girls) from different sailing classes. All of them shared the common desire to live a unique experience in contact with America's Cup sailors. Between theoretical lessons on rules and match racing, training in the gym and swimming pool (with water safety tests) and sailing on board the 69Fs, the Youth Camps proved to be an extraordinary opportunity for the young sailors, who not only refined their techniques and improved their performance, but also measured themselves with each other and developed a sense of teamwork.
All the kids approached this opportunity with awareness, determination, and a great desire to prove themselves, comments Francesco Marrai, coach of the second Camp: «The group included really good sailors with different skills: some were 69F experts, others were new in this class, but more than pure technique we were interested in the human aspect; we wanted to see who was able to react positively and promptly to challenges or crew changes, who knew how to fit better into a team context and, above all, who was the most reactive and the fastest to learn from scratch. None of the guys who will board the AC40 knows the boat; it will be a first time for everyone, so being able to grow in level in a very short time is a fundamental skill. From my point of view, we have definitely seen some profiles that are suitable to be part of such a project», he says.
Taking part in this program has been an honour», said Margherita Porro, helmswoman from Brescia (Class of 1999), who boasts an impressive collection of World, European and Italian titles and podiums in various classes (O'Pen Bic, Rs Feva, 29er, Waszp, 49er) and who recently celebrated Junior silver in the Nacra 17 (with bowman Stefano Dezulian). «I never imagined I would experience a week like this, it’s a dream come true. I was fascinated by the rhythms and professionalism of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and I realized that what goes on behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, is 99% of the team's work. The safety training was very interesting: even if you try not to think about it, the fear of getting trapped under the boat is common to all sailors and this exercise gave me the tools to feel much safer. The Youth Camp is a wonderful opportunity for the younger sailors but also for women, who finally have the chance to prove that they are as good as, if not better, than men».
«We breathed America's Cup atmosphere», says Federico Colaninno who, among his various successes in a wide range of disciplines, boasts a fourth place at the 69F Youth Foiling Gold Cup, World and European titles in Finn and a recent first place at the Swan 50 World Championship. «It was an awesome, fun and stimulating week even for me who already knows the 69F, because training with new coaches and new crewmates places you in constantly changing scenarios and challenges. Personally, I found a nice group of very young, motivated and determined people who are eager to learn. And above all, the atmosphere at the base is exciting: you are in Cagliari, but the truth is you are elsewhere, in the world of the America's Cup...».
For Carlo Ciabatti, member of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli's shore team since 2022, the Camp was also a stimulating experience: «For me, being used to sailing alone in windsurfing and foiling Classes, facing a sports effort with other young people has taught me a lot, especially in realizing how important communication, synergy and teamwork are; it makes you understand that the person you would like to have by your side in a regatta is not necessarily the most talented person, but the one with whom you create a rapport. I think the Youth Camp is also a unique opportunity to understand the work, effort and commitment that are behind a Cup challenge and that no one can imagine when looking at the team from the outside».
Mattia Cesana, a very promising Laser racer, who aboard his ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) has just completed the 2022 season with a series of important victories in the Under 19 category (World Championship, Italian Cup, Italian Championship...), has no doubts: «The America's Cup is another world, there is a level of professionalism that is totally different from the context from which I come. Living a week with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was an extraordinary opportunity that taught me how a real team works: here each person represents excellence in his or her field, but to make the wheel turn, the work of the individual must fit in perfectly with that of the others. Visiting the base, entering the tents, listening to the designers, observing the shore team... these are the things that intrigued me the most; I realized that the America's Cup is not just a sporting challenge, it is an obsession, a passion that becomes work and absorbs you completely».
At the end of the two weeks, coaches Simone Salvà and Francesco Marrai will confirm the profiles they consider to be most deserving with Jacopo Plazzi, the program coordinator. However, it will be Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, who strongly supported this project, to make the final call on those who will take part in two stages of the 69F YOUTH FOILING GOLD CUP and in the Youth and Women's America's Cup in Barcelona 2024.
«This second Camp also went very well», says Plazzi. «The weather conditions were more challenging compared to the first session, but we still managed to complete all the activities we had planned. I was impressed by the manners of these guys and by their professional approach, despite being so young. The level of training and lessons grew day by day and this is a strong indicator of motivation, passion, and a desire to grow. I have to thank Simone and Francesco for organizing two wonderful groups and for creating a good atmosphere, in the water and on shore. Once we have received their feedback, we will meet with Team Director Max Sirena, Operations Manager Gillo Nobili, and the team management to select 8/9 youth sailors who will participate in two of the 69F YOUTH FOILING GOLD CUP events; we will also try to integrate some elements in the simulator sessions to prepare them for the AC40».
«The Youth Camp project is particularly important for me», says Max Sirena, «because I have always seen in the training of young people a double opportunity: on one hand it is the chance for youths to grow, on the other it gives us the possibility of adding new and promising resources to the team. Jacopo, Simone, and Francesco have been very good at organizing and managing these two sessions with great professionalism and detail: they succeeded in forming very cohesive groups and created the best conditions for the most suitable profiles to emerge, both from a technical point of view and - even more importantly - from a personal and human perspective. Many of the participants - and among them several women - are very young, but they have the drive and passion required to become part of a bigger project. The selection will not be easy, because they are all excellent sailors and valuable resources, so I am sending a message to those who will be left out: don't be discouraged, your chance will come very soon».