Gabrio Zandonà, the helmsman with the 470 in his blood


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Winning the 470 World Championship is always a feat: the Chieffi brothers had succeeded in 1985; Gabrio Zandonà, paired with bowman Andrea Trani in 2003, replicated the success-a result that prompted us to award the very strong Roman helmsman the 2004 Sailor of the Year. Soon thereafter he would take part in the first of his three Olympics (in Athens 2004 he finished tenth, while in 2008 in Beijing he finished sixth. Together with Pietro Zucchetti in 2012 in Weymouth waters he finished fourth, just a few points away from bronze).

Aboard the boat of Gaetano Mura

Born in Rome in 1977 and a standard-bearer for the Navy, Zandonà has a long sailing career behind him that began at the age of eight on the Optimist first at Circolo Velico Ostia Lido, then at Circolo Nautico Azzurra under the valuable guidance of national coach Mario Siano. In 1990 he finished fifth at the Optimist World Championship in Cascais, Portugal, and third at the World Team Championship. In the same year he won his first Italian title (in 1993 came the one in the 420 class, in 1995 the one in the 470 Junior category, until his victory in September 2010 at the 470 Italian Championship in Formia). But 470 is his love: he has won so much and in Italy no one is stronger than him. In 2016, again paired with Trani, she did very well at the world championship in Argentina (sixth final) proving that she can race, on the brink of 40, in a physical class like 470, at the highest level.

Taken from the March 2004 Journal of Sailing. He was already among the nominees for The Sailor of the Year in 2001 (with the 470, he had won the Mediterranean Games, Kiel Week and finished third at the European championship). Again paired with bowman Andrea Trani, he won this year’s prestigious 470 rainbow title, which, by the way, Italy had been missing for 18 years after the success of the Chieffi brothers. Zandonà was also one of ten nominees for ISAF’s 2003 Sailor of the Year award.

Taken from the March 2004 Journal of Sailing. Sincere congratulations from the audience, pats on the back from colleagues, embrace even from rivals in the final title race. For Gabrio Zandonà, the typical “side dish” of any self-respecting Sailor of the Year was definitely the additional prize to that Golden Helm he was clutching in his hands and tangibly representing his value. The Roman sailor, last season’s 470 rainbow champion, emerged triumphant from the final act of the competition launched by Il Giornale della Vela. Given as the favorite in the inevitable “gossip” of the eve, Gabrio did not have it easy.

The other sailors in the “shortlist” that our newspaper indicated based on the thousands of votes (increasingly online for the record) that came to the editorial office, challenged the jury composed of CONI secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi, prize organizer Alberto Acciari, federal president Sergio Gaibisso, vice president always of FIV Gianfranco Busatti, Audi director Antonio Cerlenizza and our editor Andrea Brambilla. It’s hard to have to choose between a champion offshore sailor like Vasco Vascotto, Italy’s finest owner-helmsman like Antonio Sodo Migliori, a sailing talent like Flavia Tartaglini, and again “Cico” Rapetti, the first Italian to win the America’s Cup, as the halyardist of the unbeatable Alinghi. A fine crew indeed, who found in Gabrio the ideal skipper.

Squeezed into his sailor’s uniform (he runs for the Navy), thrilled even though he was feeling it a bit, Zandonà first found the right words to thank his bowman, Andrea Trani (“if I’m here it’s half thanks to him, he deserves the golden trapeze.”), emphasize the perfect chemistry between the star-studded sailing team, represented in the room by Commander Angelo Lattarulo, and the Federvela, and recount all the effort to enter the most prestigious roll of honor in national sailing, picking up the baton from Flavio Favini.




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