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Young Azzurra project draws to a close with the Grand Final of the Youth Foiling Gold Cup

by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda 4 Nov 2021 06:18 GMT 21 October - 3 November 2021
Young Azzurra sailing on home waters in Porto Cervo © Marta Rovatti Studihrad

The Grand Final of the Youth Foiling Gold Cup concluded today with the Young Azzurra team ranking fourth in the overall classification. Mainsail trimmer Federico Colaninno suffered an injury after capsizing yesterday, and the rest of the crew and the YCCS wish him a speedy recovery.

This morning brought the decisive day of the final of the YFGC circuit, and Young Azzurra took to the water with Ettore Botticini at the helm, Francesca Bergamo on the mainsail and Erica Ratti as flight controller. In the first race, a less than perfect start conditioned the remainder of the proceedings, with the team managing to recoup one place to finish fifth. Young Azzurra also placed fifth in the second race of the day. The last race was a decisive one thanks to quadruple points being up for grabs, and the team did its best to claim the third step on the podium, battling Team Argentina on the last leg but crossing the line just behind the Argentinian team. Today's results added to those of the previous two days, plus the electronic points and those awarded for fair play, leave Young Azzurra in fourth place overall in the Grand Final of the Youth Foiling Gold Cup, with victory awarded to the Dutch Sails team.

This final event brings the Young Azzurra sporting programme to an end. Launched in 2020 by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the aim of the project was to form an Italian team to participate in the Youth America's Cup in Auckland, which was then cancelled due to the pandemic. Despite this cancellation, the project ran throughout 2021, participating in the Youth Foiling Gold Cup and drawing to a conclusion with the circuit's Grand Final. A campaign that was set to run for four months instead continued for a year and a half, highlighting the remarkable spirit of adaptation of the athletes involved and their supporting Club, the YCCS.

Michael Illbruck, YCCS Commodore: "Looking back, we certainly could not have imagined how far we would travel with Young Azzurra. The project was in fact created to take part in the Youth America's Cup, and when that was cancelled we decided to carry on this adventure to encourage the development of these young sailors who up until today have represented the YCCS on the regatta course. This year we took part in four Grand Prix events in the Persico 69F Cup and three intense legs of the Youth Foiling Gold Cup. It was a new challenge, which brought tremendous growth, both for the team and for the YCCS. We are happy with what we have managed to achieve, and the things we have learned on this journey will guide us in the development of further opportunities for other young sailors in the near future. On behalf of the YCCS, I wish to thank all the members of Young Azzurra - Ettore, Federico, Francesca and Erica - for their commitment, sacrifice and dedication. Our thanks must also go to the two coaches, Enrico Zennaro and then Gabriele Bruni, who assisted and trained the crew."

The members of the Young Azzurra crew were happy to reflect on their experiences over the course of the project.

Ettore Botticini, skipper of Young Azzurra: "It's hard to sum up the Young Azzurra experience in just a few words, we have spent more than 100 days together, sailing and learning so many intricate aspects every day. We are proud to have represented the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, we have always been welcomed with open arms by all the members and the staff, and our thanks go to all of them for the spirit and audacity with which the Young Azzurra project was carried forward, even after the cancellation of the Youth America's Cup in 2021. We had periods when everything was going well and times when everything seemed to be against us, but our group always remained united. Thanks to Young Azzurra, I've learned how to manage speeds above 30 knots in rough conditions, knowing when to push and when to play things safer. But I have learned very important lessons off the water too, in the management of the group dynamics, in the choice of team members, in taking on important responsibilities in difficult times. We had a unique opportunity and we made the most of it, now we are looking to the future."

Federico Colaninno, mainsail trimmer on Young Azzurra: "This has been an experience, on both a sporting and a personal level, that each of us will carry with us throughout our careers. My thanks go to the YCCS, who gave us this unique opportunity. I hope that other young sailors will have the chance to develop professionally as we did."

Francesca Bergamo, flight controller on Young Azzurra: "Young Azzurra represented the opportunity I had been looking for: a high-level project that allowed me to get closer to the sailing of the future, foiling, and the world of professional sailors. I would like to thank the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, not only for making the project a reality and developing it in the best possible way, but above all for constantly providing support and dedication, both on the water and ashore. It's been a really enriching experience for me, both from a sailing and a personal point of view, and one that I'll carry with me for the future."

Erica Ratti, flight controller on Young Azzurra: "For me the Young Azzurra marked a sporting rebirth - after an accident on the water, I was a little reluctant to return to sailing at a high level. When we found out that the Youth America's Cup had been cancelled we thought it was all over, but we had the backing of a Club that supported us, a Club as determined to carry on the project as we were, if not more so. This experience has made me realise how important the time on the water is, as well as taking care of relationships. I want to thank the YCCS, who invested in us, giving us the opportunity to grow as sailors on these new flying boats of the future, providing us with everything we needed. Thanks to my fantastic team, we have experienced moments of great joy and other more difficult times together, always supporting each other, thanks Franci, Fede and Ettore!"

As the Young Azzurra sporting programme concludes, the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda is working on new long-term projects that will continue to support young up-and-coming sailors.

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