The history of Fraglia Vela Malcesine
Since 1947, passion for sailing and courage
On the 8th of September 1947 Fraglia Vela Malcesine was founded, the first sailing club of Verona and the second Fraglia of Lake Garda, after Fraglia in Riva del Garda born in the pre-world war II period.
The idea was for a group of friends who, immediately after the end of the Second World War, felt the desire for freedom and to return to beautiful and relaxing activities.
In the same year Fraglia received the official recognition of the U.S.V.I. (Union of Italian Sailing Societies) and thus joins the narrow group of Societies reunited in the National Federation.
For the first regattas the boats of the fishermen were used, among the most different and with the sails varied and dismembered. Everyone used what they had, enjoying the pleasure of being together and having fun.
In the 1948 each member committed himself with a share to buy a dinghy, the first social boat, and the following year a real class boat, the Star, was taken.
Martino Martini, among the founding members, tells the story of that period:
“The new headquarters would have been built at the beginning of the Malcesine coast; the superintendence office for public works wouldn’t let us build it, but the foreshore up to five meters from the water is of municipal relevance and we have therefore obtained permits.”
The 8th June 1951 Social Headquarter was inaugurated with the pier and crane and that summer also marks the registration of our sailing club to the F.I.V., Italian Federation of Sailing.
The first official regatta is the Vela d’Argento, a multi-class regatta, born in August 1954 on the model of the sailing week of Riva: in the first editions Star, Snipe and Dinghy classes had two days of racing; it then grew so fast that in the 1963 it already counted 80 crews and in the 1966 it was already an international regatta that led to Malcesine over 100 boats.
From 1995, the classic date of August of the Vela d’Argento was replaced with the Simone Trophy, in memory of a young member who tragically failed, who was later also called the new Club.
In the following years the sport activity increased and the Club got to have a fleet of seven Stars with which fraglia athletes got excellent places in various regattas, including the 100 miglia del Garda.
A very important race in those early years was the first Italian Championship of the Dinghy class in 1955, then returned to Malcesine in 1958 and 1962.
In 1965 the Finn Italian Championship was organized: among the participants there were the Dino and Carlo Benamati brothers who will then rank second to the Italian Championship of the 1962 in Malcesine, and Guerrino Pifferi who will be awarded the Italian Dinghy 12 p Title in 1973 in S. Margherita Ligure.
The 1967 marks the birth of Sailing School in Malcesine.
It is to be remembered for the Star class in those years the victory of the brothers Croce at the 1970 Italian Championship, then repeated in 1982, while for Fraglia the truly exceptional event was the 1973 European Spring Star Championship.
Other events worth noting:
- 1975 Finn European Championship,
- 1977 Strale Italian Championship;
- 1979 Finn European Championship and 1979 Snipe Italian Championship;
- 1984 Finn Italian Championship;
- 1986 Contender Italian Championship;
- in 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1982 Dinghy 12 p. Italian Championship
In the 1982 edition, a young member of Fraglia, Gianni Pifferi, became World Champion in the Dinghy class with a notable difference on the second ranking, following in the footsteps of his father Guerrino, the 1973 Italian Champion.
The season of the great sailors
Twenty-five years after the foundation, Fraglia Vela Malcesine arrives at an unimaginable experience until that moment: participating in the 1972 Olympics of Monaco in Kiel with two of its athletes, Flavio Scala and Mauro Testa, with the Star.
Flavio Scala is the protagonist not only in the Olympic classes, but also in the high sail: at the helm of “Azzurra” in 1983, in fact, participated in the America’s Cup.
Mauro Testa after the Rio World Championship, separated from Flavio, started to race on a Star with his cousin Gianni, our President, participating
at several World, European and Italian Championships.
“Memorable our battles at the last edge –remembers Mauro –with the world champion of that year and my pupil Roberto Benamati, also him from Malcesine.”
In the same years, two other sailors from Fraglia were known for their international and national successes: Albino Fravezzi and Giuseppe “Beppe” Devoti.
At the beginning, Fravezzi competes for the Finn class Italian national team, winning a race during the World Championship; then he moves to the Star class, taking second place in the Worlds in Rio in 1980. After participating at the 1984 Moscow Olympics as Dodo Gorla reserve, he collected several successes at European and Italian level. In 1987 Albino was the protagonist of the America Cup in Perth as a tactician on “Italia”.
As far as Beppe Devoti is concerned, his career in Star began in 1984 with Roberto Benamati; the following year came the great satisfaction for the qualification and participation in the Worlds at Bahamas. From 1988 onwards, the Devoti-Fravezzi team has won two Italian championships and the 1991 European Spring Championship, always in the Star class. The return to sailing with Benamati leads to the fourth place in the Worlds of San Francisco. In 1993 he was the Italian and European Champion in Asso 99 class.
It was in 1991 in Cannes that Roberto Benamati, wearing FVM colours, won the World Championship for excellence, the Star Worlds. After this victory he was selected for the Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992.
In the following years Benamati graduated European Champion (’99) and Italian Champion repeatedly, not only on the Star, but also on Asso 99 and Libera, classes with which he dominated countless Centomiglia del Garda.
In the 1990s, new athletes from our Fraglia emerged at all levels by winning awards and winning titles in the various youth classes.
Ylena Carcasole distinguished herself among all by winning the optimistic Optimist Italian Championship in 1995 and representing Italy to the Worlds in which she ranks second female; with Mara Trimeloni she got many victories with the 420, together with the participation in the Europeans in Stockholm and the Worlds in Greece. The 470 sees her participating, in pairs with Gemma Fiorentino, in the whole circuit of the classical regattas, at the top of the national crews of the Federation together with Federica Salvà and Emanuela Sossi.
The 2001 is the year of Andrea Cucchi: the new member of Fraglia won the title of Italian Champion of the class Formula Windsurfing. Only one year later, the young boy from Milan, adopted by Garda, with grint and good will, graduated Isaf World Champion in Marseilles.
In July 2002, Michele Marchesini’s gold medal at the Italian Championship of the Finn class in Cervia once again brought Fraglia to the front pages. He was one of the Italian national athletes selected for the Athens Olympics 2004 under the colours of Fraglia Vela Malcesine. Now Michele Marchesini is the Technical Director of Italian Sailing Federation.
2002 ends in the best way for the Albo d’Oro of Fraglia thanks to the success of Marco Carletto with his “Calzedonia” at the Ufo o.d. National Championship.
In 2008 our satisfaction was great for another gold medal: the emerging Vittorio Bissaro and Lamberto Cesari dominated the European Hobie Tiger Championship in Copenhagen and, thanks to their determination and passion, the hope of a place at the next Olympics is concrete.
The Olympic Games that see Bissaro as the protagonist are Rio 2016 in the Nacra 17 class. In fact, Vittorio with Silvia Sicouri ended the exciting Olympic adventure in fifth place, missing the medal only at the last regatta.
Many of the boys trained by Ylena Carcasole achieved prestigious personal success: Emil Toblini won the Optimist Italian Championship in 2012 and the 2015 Laser Radial National Championship; Gianmarco Planchestainer in radial laser for three consecutive years, from 2013 to 2015, is U19 National Champion, gaining admission to the military sports group of Fiamme Gialle. In 2015 Fraglia celebrated the great success of Gaia Bergonzini, 2nd female in the Optimist Worlds in Poland; the following year Gaia confirmed her talent by winning the Optimist European Women Championship and in 2019 the national youth title in the skiff 29er.
How it became the Club of excellence
In 1993 Gianni Testa became president of Fraglia Vela Malcesine and was then always confirmed, the last time in the 2020, for four years more.
“We got busy changing the soul of Fraglia. It had to be open to everyone, of everyone. Structuring the sailing school and organizing the races was also the way to meet each other, to confront and also to organize dinners or barbecues together.”
Gianni comes from an agonistic activity at high levels and knows well the needs and dynamics of sailing, having participated in numerous competitions both at national and international level.
“We wanted to move the headquarters to Retelino. Then there was still no harbour there and we would have been fine there. But we missed the opportunity and moved to Navene, in a former landfill.”
The construction work of the new headquarters began in 2003, following the project designed by the architect Lucio Donatini and the precious indications of the lovely missed friend architect Ferruccio Barzoi, who later became vice-president and soul of the Club for years.
Sandro Lombardi, in the Board from the seventies to 2016, was with Ferruccio and President Gianni the operative soul of the works: “My task,” he recalls, “was to organise the Club by spending as little as possible. The place was desolate and bad looking, and we leveled it with buildings excavation waste.”
“What adventures! It was all temporary and we moved forward in that way as best as we could but we were inventive: I was the arm and Gianni the mind. “On that square with the mythical white shed we organised European and World championships, we had the best sailors in the world who carried the name of Malcesine and its Fraglia everywhere. We grew up quickly and needed a headquarter that was up to par”
The excitement and enthusiasm of that early July day is still present in the eyes of the participants: it is the 29th of July 2006, the day long awaited of the official inauguration of the new headquarters, in the presence of authorities, partners and sympathizers.
In 2007 the new headquarter was officially finished, enriched with the restaurant / bar and the gym.
In the same year, with an excellent sport center, equipped with all the necessary services, the star European Championship was organized, together with the Topper and the Mustoskiff Worlds and a stage of the International RC44 world series, which brought to Malcesine illustrious names in international sailing to Malcesine.
The great organization and the warm welcome convinced the RC44 class to come back also in 2008, with Russel Coutts, Sebastien Col, James Spithill, Larry Ellison, Dean Barker and Cameron Appleton. With these protagonists during our regattas, Malcesine obtains media visibility that a sailing regattas rarely manage to do.
The 2014 Star World Championship was one of the most important events organized in Malcesine. After the Olympics in London and the announcement the following year that the Class would no longer be part of it, the Championship arrived for the first time ever on inland waters. Six days of racing with many sailing champions, as Grael brothers, Mark Reynolds, Benamati and Fravezzi, Negri and Lambertenghi. The German crew with Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen conquered the World Champion title. Albino Fravezzi, racing for many years with his son Fabio summarized his emotion like this: “This is an experience that every father should live with his son”. They finished the Championship 23rd.
From then until today it has been a continuous of high and very high level sailing events, without of course never neglecting the minor regattas or the social ones, always paying attention to the involvement especially of young people.
To be remembered with great satisfaction the recent successes of our very young champions in the Laser, Windsurf and Optimist classes.
Finally, we are particularly proud of the participation of our Club member and friend Matteo Celon in the 2021 America’s Cup onboard Luna Rossa which at the time of writing is making us and all of Italy dream.
Looking to the future
We looked far ahead by favoring the birth, in 2014, of what will be in the years to come one of the most important events of the Garda sailing season, the Foiling Week.
Boats and prototypes of all kinds that allow you to navigate suspended above the water are the protagonists of the Foiling Week, which is now an attraction for conferences, boat tests, collateral events and involves fans of all kinds.
Meanwhile, the prestigious regattas continue, including the Moth World championship in 2017. Nine extraordinary days of racing with participants from all over the world. The Australian Paul Goodison signed the victory, keeping up with champions of the caliber of Francesco “Checco” Bruni, Peter Burling, Tom Slingsby and other prestigious names.
The Gianni Testa presidency leads to the achievement of another great goal; the south harbour was built with floating docks completely available to racing boats.
The 2019 J/70 European Championship, with 62 crews, is the first big event to exploit the capabilities of the new port. A complex event from a logistical point of view but which put the club to the test, making it aware of being able to face other events of greater importance in the future, already planning new world championships.
We conclude this overview with the words of the journalist Luca Bontempelli who defines the Fraglia “The sailing heaven”
“I am in love with Fraglia Vela Malcesine because I am in love with sailing and the wind. I think that today the Fraglia is the most beautiful sailing club in the world, and I say so because I have seen the most important sailing clubs in the world in 30 years of journalistic career for the Gazzetta dello Sport, all clubs born for members who are passionate about sailing. Here, on the other hand, the feeling is of being in a place born for sailing “.