Double interview with Cesare and Freddy, the athletes of Young Azzurra programme
Eight questions where our young athletes tell us about their passion and sporting life
- MAGAZINE - 2023 - Lifestyle
Double interview with Cesare and Freddy, the athletes of Young Azzurra programme
Eight questions where our young athletes tell us about their passion and sporting life

1.    Think back to when you started sailing, what is your first memory and what did you feel?

Cesare: I started sailing at the age of 7, the first memory that comes to mind is of me sitting at the bow of an Optimist, with my sister tinkering around and at the same time explaining the basic concepts, our father keeping an eye on us from a RIB a little way off. I remember having fun, it was all a game and at the same time I was curious because I was learning something new.

Freddy: The first time I got on a sailboat I was 8 years old. I was at a summer camp at Poetto (Cagliari) and I had a lot of fun. The first feelings I had were joy and freedom. A year later, at the same summer camp, I tried windsurfing and fell in love with it.

2.    When did you realise that passion for this sport would become your future?

Cesare: I have always enjoyed sailing and have always been passionate about sport in general. I think that’s why I’ve made the sport of sailing an integral and fundamental part of my life, I'll try to make sure it stays that way in the future too.

Freddy: In 2021 I achieved various good results at an international level, that was when I began to seriously evaluate the hypothesis of making this sport a real profession. The following year I continued to train intensively and further positive results came. Since January 2023 I have had the privilege of being part of the Young Azzurra project, an opportunity which is allowing me to improve and to dream of the Olympics. I believe that my future could be in windsurfing, while keeping an eye on other options.

3.    In addition to passion, how important are dedication and sacrifice in order to excel?

Cesare: Every athlete has a different way of approaching competitive activity and therefore training. As far as I'm concerned, I have always considered discipline and dedication to be important, I think they are necessary attitudes in order to be able to excel in what you do. Sacrifices are certainly a sensitive topic, I believe that if you aspire intensely to something you come to no longer  consider them as sacrifices but as a opportunities for improvement.

Freddy: Dedication and sacrifice are the key to victory. At high levels, passion and talent are not enough. All athletes compete at very high levels, the ones who make the least mistakes win.

4.    Describe your typical day/week when preparing for a regatta.

Cesare: During the pre-race preparation week my days are organised so as to get into the physical, and especially mental, state that I'll need during the race. I then plan the physical training together with my trainer in such a way as to hit peak form the following week. As far as training sessions on the boat are concerned, they can change depending on weather conditions. The goal remains, however, to arrive at the regatta feeling positive about the boat in the different points of sail. It is also very important to prepare mentally, to consider the fact that there can be infinite variables and that it will be essential to be flexible and versatile.

Freddy: A typical day starts at around 7 a.m. After a hearty and nutritious breakfast, I train in the gym. In general, I go to the gym 4 times a week, and one day a week I dedicate to running or cycling. After lunch, I train on the water for about 3 hours. After training on the water the cool down begins, with a nice dinner to follow! Obviously in the winter months the typical day changes as I have to fit training around school and study time.

5.    In sport it is important to know how to lose, to consider defeat as an opportunity for growth. How do you look at that? How do you deal with "defeats"? Is there a particular incident you can tell us about?

Cesare: In sport it is essential to know how to deal with defeat, you can easily fall into several errors such as finding excuses and justifications as causes for the “failure”. This approach, however, does not allow you to find ways to improve. Obviously I have faced defeats, each time what you think and what you feel is different. What I try to do, there and then, is to dedicate only a small amount of time to reflection immediately after the race, because I am aware that due to the fatigue and frustration of the moment I can't formulate constructive thoughts. Then, one or two days later, I try to analyse the various aspects of my performance again in a more lucid, positive and constructive way.

An episode happened a few months ago, at the end of the 2022 season, with a very busy month that saw the Italian Championship followed by the European Championship, just a few days apart. At the Italian championship I didn't manage to perform the way I had wanted to, which brought me to a negative mental state, results that were below the goals set, and an injury to the left shoulder. I knew I had very little time to learn from my mistakes, reset my mind and give 100%, with no other agenda than the European Championship that was beginning shortly, all with severe pain in my shoulder. I experienced the moment as a great challenge, an opportunity for growth, no matter how it turned out. I worked very hard, I continued the preparation as planned, remaining focused on the following week. Thanks also to the great support from my coach I managed, despite the pain, to achieve my best ever performance at the European Championship. I understood that a "defeat" is only a defeat if you interpret it in the wrong way, otherwise it is more accurate to call it an opportunity for growth. 

Freddy: Defeat is part of the game and it is the defeats that then bring you the wins. I see every defeat as an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to focus on the mistakes made and try to improve. I always try to turn the anger and disappointment of a defeat into competitive drive. This year, for the first time, I got to know the senior world. It was an honour and a pleasure to compete alongside professionals in this sport. The races were very difficult and I had some defeats. They provide the motivation to move forward!

6.    According to a recent report by World Sailing, the Olympic classes are among the most inclusive in sailing. It shows, in fact, that equal numbers of men and women participate in these categories. Is the sport of sailing for everyone? 

Cesare: For me sailing is a sport absolutely open to everyone. From this point of view I think I have a somewhat biased and fortunate vision since, for now, my sailing experience has mainly been concentrated within the Olympic classes, where each nation is represented equally by male and female athletes. I hope that outside of Olympic sailing too the situation is the same, the Olympic classes undoubtedly represent a great example of inclusion.

Freddy: Sailing is and must be for everyone. It is a sport that can be practised from an early age and throughout life. It is nice to see people with disabilities also being able to appreciate sailing, being in contact with the sea and the wind.

7.    What does the sea represent to you?

Cesare: The sea is a fundamental element in our sport, since I started sailing I have learned to respect it because, just as it can allow you to sail in complete serenity, it is also able to show great force, which can make a training session or a race really difficult.

Freddy: The sea is my home. Every day I can wake up and see the sea. It gives me a feeling of total freedom, light-heartedness and joy. I don't think I could live for more than a week without seeing the blue of the sea!

8.    What advice would you give to your peers coming into the world of sailing?

Cesare: I would tell them that it is a sport in which you can always learn something new, in training or when racing. I think there are different ways to grow in sailing, one is certainly based on many hours of training but another is to gain experience, especially in regattas. My advice is therefore to do as many activities as possible, putting in maximum effort, and be patient when things don't turn out perfectly.

Freddy: The only advice I can give to my peers coming into sailing is to have fun every day. The important thing is to have a smile on your face and be surrounded by people who transmit positive energy.