Alessandra Sensini, will any Italian be able to do better than her?


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She has been Sailor of the Year four times, the first in 1997.
Alessandra Sensini was born in Grosseto in 1970. She discovered sailboarding in ’82; five years later she was already third at the Youth World Championships. At the Barcelona ’92 Olympics she was seventh on the Mistrals, but made up for it in Atlanta ’96 by winning bronze. His career peaked with gold in Sydney in 2000. In Athens 2004 he “settled” for bronze, and in Qingdao in 2008, on the new RS:X boards that replaced the Mistral, he took home a silver. His endless palmares also include four gold, two world silver and five European titles. After fencing champion Valentina Vezzali (five individual Olympic medals), Sensini is the most titled Italian Olympic athlete. Under his leadership as FIV Youth Technical Director, our athletes are enjoying many successes.


The first woman and only female sailor to win the Sailor of the Year four times (1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009) did so following her Olympic feats. From bronze in Savannah in 1996 to silver in Beijing in 2008, via the legendary gold won in Sydney in 2000 and bronze in Athens 2004. Not to mention the myriad world and European titles won by Sensini between Mistral and RS:X (9 golds, 6 silvers and one bronze).

Taken from The Journal of Sailing, February 2009. “Alessandra Sensini flying over the water on windsurfing is now known to everyone. Her sporting notoriety is due to a palmares in which 4 Olympic medals are included-she is the first female sailor in history to achieve this milestone. The last one, silver, she won at the 2008 Beijing Games, the same year she also won her 11th rainbow title. A one-two punch she had already achieved in 2004 and 2000 (the year of her Sydney gold). Therefore, the special 2008 Sailor of the Year Jury was “forced” to award her once again, the fourth, the prestigious Golden Helm. “The post-Olympic year is a time during which I have more than usual to get dressed up,” says Alessandra Sensini. “However, sports is a world that often offers important occasions when it is necessary to dress up.”

Do you like to wear clothes other than sportswear at galas?
Yes, it amuses me, although sometimes I envy the stars with all the collaborators in tow. Last November, for example, I went to Madrid to collect the ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Award, and two days earlier I had had surgery on my right hand. I was alone and not very self-sufficient: I brought ten socks anticipating that some I would surely break while dressing; then, I couldn’t wash my hair, so I went to the hotel hairdresser!

In your closet what is found?
There is no comparison, sports clothes in large majority, also because I get packs of them. Properly evening dresses I wear very little, but I like heeled shoes and try to wear them even when I am dressed sporty. The last pair I bought has a 9 heel, but I can also walk in a 12, certainly not for the whole day!

Are there times in your life when you manage not to be a sailor?
Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics I’ve only been out windsurfing twice, then in December I did a race on the Melges 24 with Joe Fly. After Athens 2004, for example, I had not raced for a year and a half. Even if I don’t go into the water, I still always do work related to my sports activity.

During times when you are not following a specific schedule for a regatta, what do you do?
I keep working: meeting people, discussing projects, attending meetings, always traveling a lot. After the last Olympics, unlike many other athletes, I was unable to take a vacation. After winning the fourth medal, I felt that I had obligations to so many people: friends, family and sponsors who helped me achieve victory. With this phase over, I am already thinking about reprogramming the future.

Is there a vacation you’d like to take, though?
I admit that maybe I am the one who can’t get away from work, but for many years I have been dreaming of a vacation to a place to do only wave surfing.

Has your great dedication to the sports profession also regulated your friendships?
No, my real friends, longtime friends, are strangers to the world of sports. With them I like to go to movies, theater, exhibitions: recently I went to Rome to see the exhibitions dedicated to De Chirico and Basquiat.

In sports you have certainly accomplished yourself, but do you feel you have neglected something?
So many of my peers have started families, and I kind of miss that. I would have liked to have had a child, but my sister who had one at age 45 still allows me to think about it. For the career, I put aside my personal life. There have been people who have been close to me at some stages of my journey, but I have grown up always doing a lot on my own. Unlike sports, where in the last three Olympic quadrenniums in particular, there has been a team behind me, in my private sphere I have not given others a way to approach me.

You travel a lot, but do you feel that you belong somewhere, that you have a home?
When I was little in Grosseto, I didn’t fit in; when I was 16, I lost my mother and wanted to find something to take me around. A need that was also at the origin of my encounter with windsurfing. In the early years of travel I saw so many places where I would have liked to live. Then, over time, I began to notice that I was coming home more and more willingly, where I have a father, three sisters and four grandchildren. I am attached to my family and have come to appreciate Grosseto and its entire area. However, part of my heart is in Sydney: I celebrated my 18th birthday there, when it was also Australia’s 300th birthday celebration. I feel close to the mentality of Australians: they are free, but attached to their roots; they have a very good relationship with nature, and for them sport is normal.”




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