This year at this year’s Velista dell’Anno (find out who won and why), the most prestigious award in Italian sailing (given by the Giornale della Vela since 1991) we told you, fans would win as well. We asked you to email us your “endorsements,” or messages of support for your favorite candidate.
Boom of emails! 545 endorsements to the Sailor of the Year
As many as 545! After a long selection process, the Jury of the Sailing Newspaper, the same one that decided the winners of the Sailor of the Year 2023, has reached a verdict and decided the seven winning endorsements to be awarded the fantastic prizes raffled off by Garmin Marine, namely two Garmin quatix 7 sailing smartwatches and five state-of-the-art Garmin InReach two-way satellite receivers.
The winning endorsements of the Sailor of the Year 2023
The quatix 7 winners are Michele Borea d’Olmo and Alessandro Giay Pron, while the Inreach awardees are Agnese Lanzoni, Francesco Cima, Enrico Di Piazza, Franco Deganutti and Luana Marzi .
Below, as you read their passionate endorsements, from the son celebrating his father, to the 13-year-old who dreams of the ocean, to the perfect “brushstrokes” describing the spirit of the nominated sailors in a few words, you will discover why the Jury decided to award them.
Gian Battista, my father. Great sailor
Author: Michele Borea d’Olmo
Endorsement in favor of: Giovanni Battista Borea d’Olmo
Dear members of the Jury of the Journal of Sailing,
I am writing to you with the goal of supporting my father, a candidate for Sailor of the Year, Owners category.
I realize that because I am the son of the candidate, my judgment is certainly beyond biased. Then again, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this letter and I wouldn’t have the passion that I have for sailing if he hadn’t been able to pass on an ounce of it to me. And that is exactly the one I want to tell you about.
Gian Battista is a sailor, the kind of sailor who, with a little more folly, would have become a Tabarly (with all due respect to Tabarly who is an undisputed legend in sailing history). Always out on the sea, always frantically gliding, but always with the feeling of calm control, and we all know that the sea, calm and controlled, has little. Come to think of it, my father with a little more craziness would have been my grandfather (sailing-wise), who was a Tabarly of yesteryear. But that is another story.
He, Gian Battista, was adopted by the sea, and, since enrolling at Morosini in Venice, he has not been away from a boat for more than a few days, racing inshore and offshore, on whatever floated and had a pole and some sails. Seasons and championships have gone by on the FJ, FD, Star, J24, ocean sailings and regattas with the North Star, of which he was the Second, coasters and triangles at the helm of Santa Rosa, Agneta, Bonafide, Moya, Sorella and many other boats, whose names I cannot remember now.
In 1999 we had a boat built, based on a design by Harrison Butler, in 1949 in Malaysia from the very rare local black teak. A wood, black teak, that has such a density that when put in water, it sinks! The Selemat, at 9 meters long and 9 tons, was certainly not a fast boat, not even vaguely, but it was a good boat that gave us many good family moments. These included the last regatta of his grandfather who, a few days after helming the Selamat at the Legionnaires’ Regatta (YCPR) left us.
Thus came to the family Vistona, a boat born from the pencil of McPherson Campbell in 1937. It was an era of extraordinary innovation and evolution of boats. Yachting and cruising was born. Boats were no longer built just for technical or business purposes, nor for racing (a luxury until a few years earlier intended for very few). It was beginning to sail for pleasure. It was also beginning to change the way boats were designed. The advantages of Marconi weapons over Auric weapons were perceived. Innovative lines were being tried, very varied and sometimes bold. It was in this world that Dalriada was born, later renamed even before the launch NancyRose, and immediately followed by Vistona, an auric cutter evidently designed to be what we today would call a fast cruiser, with large bow volumes and a very fine stern (it looks like the shape of a fish).
My grandfather saw it by chance around 1963 and fell in love with it. In 1966, he found it in a state of disrepair, bought it and converted it into Yawl Marconi, a simpler and more suitable rig for what he wanted to do: sail, alone, having only one arm.
When she came to the family, for many reasons, including the many miles she had traveled in the Adriatic Sea, Vistona was badly run down and neglected for many years. The original mast broke while being tied down with the crane to dismast, and the hull was a colander. After 4 years of restoration done by my father with the help of Marco Bonacina (shipwright and now commander of the Vistona), Vistona has been rejuvenated, restored to her original rig and ready to sail and race again.
Since then Gian Battista has never taken his hands off Vistona’s helm, taking her around the Mediterranean to sail and race in all conditions. So you will excuse me if I have expanded on the history of Vistona, but my father and Vistona are two entities that can no longer be told, sailing-wise, independently of each other.
Making boats walk well is the mastery of few, whether these are modern or vintage boats. The balances that come into play are infinite, and there is never a limit to improvement.
On modern boats, classes, tonnages and regulations give limits and tracks within which, those who develop a boat must stay. Despite this there are always (unfortunately) small shortcuts or borderline solutions that give a few hundredths of a knot more, or a better tonnage coefficient. In vintage boats, where there are also staging and regulations here, this course also needs (or would need) a form of ethics and respect for the boat being raced. Boats over 70 or 100 years old are not racehorses to be doped. It takes a finer hand and a more conservative approach to get the boat running. With Vistona, my father went a very long way toward optimization.
Mind you, this is not a matter of having 3 jibs, 1 tails 0, 4 asymmetrical… in vintage boats you race more or less always with the same sails, maybe you have a bigger jib for very light wind, but no doubt you don’t pay too much attention to the weight… the mast of an auric has to stay straight, there is no talk of arrowing or prebending…and yet, giving up most of the modern materials and the associated complications (and advantages) they bring, vintage boats, with time, dedication, attention and delicacy, slowly begin to walk, perform and surprise. Vistona has a good pace today, she is fast in almost all conditions, even the most unthinkable (she is fast with little air). Vistona suffers from the short wave, which does not marry its bow volumes. My father suffers from the short wave.
Having said that, which I hope has given a good insight into who my father is and who Vistona is, it is time to talk about results.
Vistona (my father) participates in several regattas and rallies of vintage boats in the Mediterranean, always trying to select those where the boat has more similar and fierce competitors. Vistona does not race to win. Vistona races to beat other boats that have similar or better performance. Needless to go looking for confrontation with auric giants, metric classes or (increasingly common) auric boats born to race. Bona Fide and the generation of boats that have appeared in the Mediterranean since its restoration (Olimpian, the NY50s,…, one more beautiful and faster than the other) are impregnable for Vistona, both in real but also in compensated. One therefore seeks or prefers regattas where our opponents have a good chance of beating us, but also of failing to do so.
The challenges, always epic and hard-fought, over time have been many! The one with Owl, with whom we shared the harbor and the circle until a few years ago, with Veronique, with Tirrenia 2, with Barbara (though not auric) who has become fearsome in recent years, with Oenone who brought in by Chicco Zaccagni is always an opponent to keep an eye on. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Regattas, especially fun ones, cannot reserve victory for only a few.
Over the years, the regattas where these challenges have taken place are many, and it is difficult to gather specific results from them. Some regattas, however, have marked Vistona’s wake and need to be remembered. First, the Bailli de Souffren, from St Tropez to Malta, in which Vistona has participated for over 15 years, often winning for its category. The vintage boat circuit, where, in Imperia and Montecarlo, Vistona never fails. The Viareggio Gathering and the more recent one in Capraia, where the challenge with Chicco Zaccagni became more epic year by year. The Corsica Classic, which tours the Mediterranean island. Lastly, the Legionnaire’s Regatta, certainly the least important regatta competitively, but one that over the past 20 years has given us wonderful races, even with extraordinary conditions (a few years ago we raced in 40 knots, finishing 9′ out of 60 boats, the only boat not in fiberglass).
In all these regattas Vistona has made its mark, often reaching the top step of the class podium, and sometimes with interesting results in the overall rankings as well. But it is then the challenges that have been generated that have made the regattas unique.
The challenge that today, and over the past year, I think best represents Gian Battista (and Vistona) is the one against Barbara and Oenone. Boats both beautiful, well kept and beautifully carried. With Chicco Zaccagni (Oenone) there is then a deep and long-standing friendship, which collaborates to make the challenge even more exciting and personal.
I can only conclude, of course, by mentioning the successes, already recalled by the Giornale della Vela website, at the Vela Cup in Sardinia, the Imperia vintage sails and the Legionnaire’s regatta. I hope, however, that I have also conveyed to you a different point of view, a somewhat abandoned way of racing and sailing that is often lost in the name of a simple result, a way of being a passionate and passionate sailor and sailor in a deep-rooted way. I hope I was able to explain why my father could (or in my opinion should) be the sailor of the year. Above all, I hope that I have succeeded in telling you what my eyes as a son see when looking at my father, the sailor to whom I owe my passion, every time we hoist the mainsail and set sail together.
The 13-year-old from Turin who dreams of Pedote and Bona’s feats
Author: Alexander Giay Pron
Endorsement in favor of: Giancarlo Pedote and Alberto Bona
My name is Alexander Giay Pron and I am a 13-year-old boy who is passionate about sailing. I live in a small town near Turin, and ever since I was little, the sea has been the center of my interests. I started sailing when I was 9 years old during the summer when I could go to the sea, but this passion has become ingrained in me more and more over the years, also thanks to the instructor I met.
I became interested in ocean sailing 2 years ago when I learned the story of Giancarlo Pedote, an Italian sailor living in France who completed the Vendée Globe in 2020. Solo sailing I think is the finest art in the world, and I say this from experience because I go on Lasers.
I have seen a lot of videos about Giancarlo Pedote and other oceanic solo sailors in class 40 such as Ambrogio Beccaria and Alberto Bona. Their stories fascinated me so much. Therefore, for the election of the 2023 Sailor of the Year, I chose to cast my vote for Alberto Bona and Giancarlo Pedote.
Giancarlo Pedote managed to bring Italy back to the Vendée globe and put the screws to many French sailors. I love Italy, I think it is a special country, and I was excited to think that people like Bona and Pedote are representing us abroad. Pedote with the flag of Italy on his Prysmian Group shows off his wonderful passion and respect for his beloved Italy.
Instead, I decided to vote for Bona because I have followed all his Class 40 races: the Route de Rhum, La Rorc Caribbean 600, the Defi Atlantique, and now I am following the Cic Normandy Race. Of Bona I love the way he expresses himself mainly through actions rather than words. He doesn’t talk much, but I think he has unique skills in the area of sailing. He proved this at the Rorc Caribbean 600 with his victory. The few words he uses are always precise, curated, and understandable, and I really appreciate that.
I am in the eighth grade and will have to take the exam this year. As the topic of my paper, I chose to talk about the Vendée Globe precisely because of the interest that these two sailors gave me.
I apologize if I have gone on too long but unfortunately it is a fault of mine is all the profs tell me!
If Emalloru did it, we can all do it
Endorsement in favor of: Agnese Lanzoni
Dear editors of The Journal Of Sailing,
I come to you with great enthusiasm to support the candidacy of Emanuele Malloru, who will surely arouse interest and admiration among your readers.
Emanuele has attracted the attention of a wide audience through his engaging and passionate videos in which he shares his adventures at sea. The surprising thing about him is that he bought a boat without having any sailing experience. However, instead of being discouraged by this challenge, he decided to learn from nothing, experimenting, facing mistakes and correcting them on his way. This spirit of resourcefulness and determination are admirable qualities that should be recognized and rewarded.
He has shown remarkable learning and adaptability, overcoming the difficulties encountered along the way. Through his videos, he has shared his experiences, lessons and advice with his audience, becoming a source of inspiration for many aspiring boaters. His sincerity in showing both successes and failures is a sign of authenticity and transparency, qualities that are often lacking in sailing narratives.
In addition to being a successful Youtuber, he has established a deep connection with the Italian sailing community. He shared his passion by involving people of different ages and backgrounds. His dedication to spreading the culture of sailing and encouraging others to follow their dreams is commendable.
Recognizing Emanuele as a winner in the field of sailing would be an opportunity for your newspaper to celebrate Italian talent and the courage to pursue a limitless passion. His fascinating story and his commitment to inspiring others make him a worthy candidate for consideration.
Thank you for your attention and interest in this remarkable individual. I am convinced that his story would have a positive impact on the Italian sailing community and would be an additional source of pride for your newspaper.
Cecilia: a great sailor on the front lines for everyone’s rights
Author: Francis Cima
Endorsement in favor of: Cecilia Zorzi
I am convinced that Cecilia Zorzi should be awarded as Sailor of the Year.
I have known Cecilia since high school, and I have never seen someone so gritty and motivated in following her passions, in her case sailing. I remember from the early years the repeated invitations to go to the Garda with his laser, wonderful experience, for a novice like me.
Over the years I have seen, even from afar, incredible growth in Cecilia, a continuous change of class and evolution until she reached unparalleled professional and sporting maturity.
I have seen her advocate for and be the bearer and flag bearer of social, gender equity and environmental sustainability initiatives that only a few athletes have the courage to do.
It is at the same time to achieve more and more success on the sports side as well. If anyone truly deserves this recognition, I think it is Cecilia!
Ambrose vs. the mediocrity of modern thought
Author: Enrico Di Piazza
Endorsement in favor of: Ambrose Beccaria
My name is Enrico and I always follow the affairs of the Sailing Newspaper with passion. I would like to cast my vote as Sailor of the Year for Ambrogio Beccaria.
I think that in a world ruled by appearance, in which, only thanks to a streak of followers on social channels, one can win such a prestigious award, Ambrose represents a concept of talent that is out of the chorus: young, enthusiastic, always devoted to self-improvement, never flashy on digital channels, humble and determined… In short, a true role model to get out of the mediocrity of today’s thinking for which everything is easy.
Ambrose is one of the world’s promising young sailors and deserves this recognition much more than others.
He won’t make videos that pop up all over the web, but a sailing enthusiast follows him silently, rooting for him, admiring his strategies, his tenacity, and, last but not least, his formidable instincts that come out in moments of difficulty such as those he faced during the Route du Rhum.
Matteo Polli, designer in step with the times
Author: Franco Deganutti*
Endorsement in favor of: Matteo Polli
Good morning, my vote, for the Innovation Category of the Sailor of the Year competition, goes to Matteo Polli!
Matteo, in his still young but intense profession as a planner and designer, has already proven to be a great innovator in the field, ranging from small cabin cruisers to maxis, with functional and above all winning solutions: thus knowing how to find an answer to the classic and atavistic question of how owners would like their ideal boats to be.
An attentive connoisseur of ORC trends and regulations, he has been able to optimize even dated and potentially obsolete hulls, bringing them back to prestigious results.
In addition, his sensitivity to environmental issues and problems prompted him to participate in the design of the various “Eco” models of the startup Northern Light, a spearhead of national and even international technological and ecological innovation.
*Franco Deganutti was, among others, among the nominees for Sailor of the Year 2023.
Luca Franchi as Baricco’s Novecento
Author: Luana Marzi
Endorsement in favor of: Luca Franchi
Hello to all the Friends of the “Journal of Sailing.”
Today I can say that time is the friend of those who respect it. In return for patience, he can give you a broader and clearer view of what has happened to you. It shows you that sometimes life bars your way not to hurt you, but simply because that is not your way!
After this brief but fundamental introduction, it is with extreme pleasure and deep esteem that I give my endorsement for the 2023 Sailor of the Year vote in favor of Luca Franchi from Genoa placed in the Young section. I know Luke personally, a dynamic, outgoing and pleasantly garrulous guy with a radical passion for wind and sea in all its forms, endowed with great determination, dedication in setting goals, he has collected important goals, also thanks to his ability to focus on the goal.
“He was a very good pianist the one in Legend on the Ocean, who in accordance with Alessandro Baricco’s story was born on a ship and spent his whole life there, basically on the route between Genoa and America. It risked not being too different Luca Franchi’s parable with the WingFoil: a circumnavigation of the globe from birth, considering his parents’ great passion for the sea, beginning with his native Ligurian“.
He who took his first steps on the waters, accompanied in life by a cool north wind in the mirror of Voltri’s waters, growing up first among boats and then on Windsurfing boards, with such liquid roots, was destined growing up to explore new alternatives to travel the ancient routes of the Seven Seas.
WingFoil is the solution he has found, he who has recently reached the age for his high school graduation exam, but who of the waters is a master: World Under-19 champion of the discipline!
“Amor ogni cosa Vince”
Go Luca go!!!
The Sailor of the Year 2023 is in collaboration with:
PIRELLI, FROM TIRES TO SAILING. The historic Milanese manufacturer of car, motorcycle and bicycle tires is a global brand recognized for innovation and technology. Also historical passion for various sports, including sailing. A bond that has lasted since the 1970s and continues today aboard “Luna Rossa” in the America’s Cup and “Alla Grande Pirelli” in the solo ocean challenge.
GARMIN MARINE ITALY, A PARADISE FOR YOUR BOAT. The Italian division of the global electronics giant provides you with all of Garmin’s marine products to equip your boat with the latest technology and to always navigate in total safety.