People & Athletes > My ten years at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine

My ten years at the Fraglia Vela Malcesine

by Mattia Lonardi

Mattia Lonardi: Staff Ufficio Fraglia Vela Malcesine

The phone call

My adventure with the Fraglia Vela Malcesine started with a phone call in 2008. I was 24 years old and was two exams away from my degree in building engineering and architecture. I had programmed that summer to complete my studies.

I was at Lake Caldonazzo at the Facoltiadi, university race, the day that the call arrived from Ylena Carcasole who was looking for an instructor for the children’s courses in the middle of July. I didn’t really have to think about it and accepted immediately. In the beginning we were talking about a couple of weeks and I already had experience as an instructor and coach.

In fact at sixteen years old I worked as an assistant instructor at the Circolo Vela Arco under the guidance of Beba Murru.
At eighteen years old in my last season in 420’s I attended the instructor courses led by Beppe Devoti. Afterwards for two years I coached the Optimist squad of the Circolo Vela Arco and subsequently the 420 squad for a collaboration of all the sailing clubs based in Arco area.

Arriving at the Fraglia

I was immediately struck by the beauty of the new clubhouse as it was quite some time since I had passed by Navene and my memory was of a gravel boatpark, a large white Marquee and the secretary’s office in a wooden shed.

My first steps at the Fraglia were under the guidance of Ylena who explained to me how everything worked , to whom I should report
and what were the objectives of the two weeks of teaching.
I began to know Chiara Serafini the long standing secretary, Gerard Vos and Stefano Agarri Panigutti the two caretakers and Ebel Floridia who helped me as the second instructor in the sailing school.

I immediately recognised the ideal conditions here in Navene for a sailing school, you could go out in both the morning and the afternoon with equal tranquillity.

They were two exceptional weeks with good wind and a nice bunch of children.

Mattia Lonardi: Allenatore Fraglia Vela Malcesine

I remained in the notebook of Chiara who asked me to help for the first time with the Simone Trophy as the rib driver for the finish line and to run a private course for a couple of children at the request of Fabrizio Prandini. This is how I came to know Fabrizio, not making the connection initially that Fabrizio the photographer and Fabrizio the committee member were the same person. And so it was coming to know him that Fabrizio has been one of the people who has supported me in my career at the Fraglia.

A work contract

I re-started university at the beginning of November when I received a call from Beppe Devoti the sporting director of the Fraglia who together with Ylena had decided to ask me to take charge of the children’s course for the 2009 season and help Ylena with the Optimist squad.
At this time we were talking about twenty or so children in the squad. In
reality a work contract was in the offing.
I remember the meeting with Beppe, Ylena and my father who was against
the idea and to be sincere continued to say to me, you must first finish your studies and then you can do what you like.

I was flattered by the offer, I liked the project .The idea of having Beppe Devoti who was well versed in the Optimist programme of the Federation and was Sporting Director together with Ylena as a colleague was a great influence on my decision. The statement which finally swayed me came from Ylena “The work is good fun and the boss isn’t always on your case”.

And so it was in March 2009 I found myself in a rib working with the Cadets in the Optimist squad. Right from the start I found myself in perfect harmony with Ylena, we talked the same language also from a technical point of view. From Ylena I learned a huge amount on how to organise the group and how to handle the relationships for maximum result. Really important lessons which were much appreciated.

How could I forget my first students. At the end of August there were five who continued on into the training squad. Gaia Bergonzini, Giorgia Bertuzzi, Francesco Alverà, Gaia Monaci and Nicolò Roina.

I understood immediately the love and dedication felt for Fraglia by its President Gianni Testa, the vice President Ferruccio Barzoi and Sandro Lombardi: new acquaintances who were fundamental to my progress.

The first year was really intense and flew by. A good year for the sailing school, lots of analysis and soul searching about the internal dynamics of the Fraglia Vela Malcesine as well as its relationship with the town of Malcesine. I personally needed to understand at what point I had arrived and what I needed to improve to get the best out of myself.

Mattia Lonardi: Corso Vela Fraglia Vela Malcesine

Chiara says goodbye

With the departure of Chiara in 2010 arrived Michelle Paliesi in her place. Chiara was a work horse and maintained personal control of a huge number of intricate and taxing operations. Probably the most difficult problem faced was to transfer all this knowledge and experience to Michelle and which in the end was really never achieved.

And so it was that the willing Michelle found herself in solitary control of organising regattas, the administration and accounting of the Fraglia and the Marina, as well as manning the front office. Having seen the mountain of work I was asked if I could help her over the winter months to oversee the website and help her with secretarial duties.

Up to this point I had no idea of the complexity and amount of work that is involved in the office of Secretary.

The year of decision, to stay or to go

In 2011 I invested all my energy into the Fraglia to ascertain if it was really what I wanted to do. As well as acting as second to Ylena at the sailing school I was also helping Michelle in the off season with the work of the secretary.

After a great deal of investigation and analysis of the data acquired from previous years we decide to change the formula for the courses of the sailing school. No longer all day courses lasting for two weeks but weekly courses with a change of emphasis according to the season. At the beginning of the summer we organised beginners courses in the morning and improver courses in the afternoon. In high season courses which lasted
the whole day. On top of this we started free courses for residents who were in the first and second years of elementary school to give them at least the opportunity to try once in their life the sport of sailing.

In the course of 2010 we started to involve the youngsters from the training squad in the activities of the sailing school. At first going out in groups in the 555FIV and at sixteen years old learning to teach from a rib. The first were Alvise, Andrea and Riccardo and it fills me with pride that even after the passage of time and achieving their qualifications as instructors they
continue to help out in the sailing school and the various activities of the Fraglia. All in all this was the year the sailing school really took off.

I remember 2011 for the arrival of the first important results for the Optimist and Laser squad. In the Optimist Emil Toblini qualified for the Europeans and Gianmarco Planchestainer for the Worlds. The jewel in the crown of the excellent work done by Ylena in the previous years. The victory of SilviaD’agnola at the National championships for the Laser
4.7 under the tutelage of Valerio Brighenti signalled the start of a series of victories for the Laser squad.

At the end of the season I found myself at a meeting with Marco Carletto in his office together with Beppe and Ylena to finalise the details of my new contract. I remember it as if it were yesterday. Everybody spoke well of Marco: a good man and a really important member of the committee. I didn’t know him very well and was rather tense for the meeting.

The meeting went really well and all my efforts were rewarded by a more stable situation and so 2012 started at full steam.

The Sporting activity explodes

In 2012 with the help during the summer of Alice Zorzi we founded a Sailing Group dedicated to the youngsters who graduated from the sailing courses to gradually move them toward the racing squad. We also started a windsurfing programme with Giorgia Brizio and welcomed the arrival of Luigi Rago and the 420 squad.

We won some national titles amongst which was the Optimist national title won by Emil Toblini in home waters mirroring the title won by Ylena in 1995 in Cagliari.

The sporting team led by Beppe Devoti with Ylena, Valerio, Luigi and Giorgia was working really well and without effort, what more could you want?

Toward the end of 2012 at the initiative of Luisa Bambozzi a board member of Fraglia and at the heart of the Melges class Italy opened a new chapter for me in my career. This she did by convincing me that autumn to help her organise the Europa Laser Cup 2013, which was in three years to become a
regatta with a record number of participants at 642 boats.

I thank Luisa for teaching me everything about organising an event, the creation of a business plan, requesting a jury and race committee, organising the staff, finding the prizes and the logistic requirements.

In no time I learned a new aspect of my work: my training in the sailing world was complete.

At the first Laser Cup at the end of March 2013 there were around 590 boats. Everything was ready, two race courses, 13 reference points per course, six committee boats, 10 buoy laying boats, an ambulance, 70 coach boats in the water and 590 sailors together with 590 boats. A huge undertaking. The presence of Luisa on shore and Gerard on the water was a great reassurance to me.

The first day started with 25 knots of freezing north wind (Peler).
The conditions made everything very difficult and despite some misgivings we managed to complete the first day without any major dramas. The following three days were as good as it is possible to be and convinced everybody who was not already convinced that Malcesine was a place ready and able to host any type of sailing event.

The organisation of the Europa Cup brought it home to me how important it is to construct a team who work together in harmony and it was even more satisfyingly that it was home grown.

2012 and 2013 were years full of important results and our racing squad was performing at the highest level on the national stage. In this year my relationship with the President Gianni Testa and Ferruccio Barzoi became even closer. They often asked my opinion and help which was a good indication of their increasing trust in me.

2014 started with a memorable event: the Meeting of Garda Optimist and the victory of Francesco Novelli in the Cadet category.
The “Meeting” had always been an important event. We had always in the last three years had a representative in the top ten of the junior classification. Our sailor Patrick Zeni had finished second twice and to finally win it with one of our sailors filled me with pride.

Thanks Francesco and above all thanks Ylena for the satisfaction you brought me in those days.

Squadra Optimist FVM Metting 2012 Fraglia Vela Malcesine

From this point my involvement in the training stated to wane and I took a more active role in organising regattas and the day to day running of the Fraglia. After the Europa Cup I was left in a large part to organise the Star Worlds and the first Foiling Week.

It was during these meetings to organise events that my rapport with Gianni and Ferruccio intensified and bit by bit I heard tell the stories of the history of Fraglia and the birth of the new Fraglia and clubhouse, being built without any obvious funding.

Every new story increased my love for Fraglia Vela project, their creation, a lifetime’s obsession.

At the end of the Star Worlds Ferruccio died. I was leaving home in the morning to go to work when Gianni phoned me to inform me what had happened: it came as such a shock. It seemed impossible that Ferruccio our architect, the heart of our organisation, the choreographer as Gianni called him would no longer turn up at the Fraglia on his scooter or in his green Fiat panda. The saddest day of that particular year.

Another change of collaborators

2015 the year of pass the parcel. Michelle worked from home and spent a couple of days a month at the Fraglia to give an update on our situation. Alice finished her role in the Gruppo Vela and began to help me in the organisation of regattas. Alvise Weber took my place as second to Ylena, started work with the Gruppo Vela and was chief instructor for the sailing school. In the summer the front office was manned by Camilla who also oversaw the registrations for the sailing school.

I became the coordinator for all these various activities. I worked hard because my presence helped the whole organisation and team to proceed more smoothly. I learned many important lessons from Gianni, Maurizio Butturini our treasurer and Alessandro Miolato a club member who from that year became the Administrator for the Marina Navene.

Mattia Lonardi Inaugurazione Mondiale Star 2014 Fraglia Vela Malcesine

2015 was the umpteenth year of success for our racing squad with Gaia Bergonzini, Gianmarco Planchestainer, Andrea Spagnolli and Rio Kevin, Demi Rio, Maria Coluzzi, Edoardo Tanas as the main combatants. Amongst the regattas I remember the success of the Europa Cup with 642 participants, the Red Bull Foiling Generation and the H-Boat Worlds.

The staff continues to grow

In 2016 there were some important changes in the staff. To help me in the place of Michelle arrived Patrizia Lever to help part-time with the accounts of the Marina. I was very happy. I already knew Patrizia who worked in Marco Carletto’s office: she is a happy smiling person who slotted easily and seamlessly into our group. Alvise for educational reasons decided to take part only in the summer teaching programme.
We needed therefore somebody with experience who could take on the Gruppo Vela and take Ylena’s place when she was away at regattas.
By good fortune we attained the services of Gabriele Ghirotti as a strong right-hand man to Ylena. Gabriele, always a tireless worker, completed our team. I was delighted when he accepted our offer as I was sure he would give of his best. We grew up together in Riva, first in Optimist, and then
following his successful career in Laser he became the coach of the Optimist team of the Circolo Vela Arco when my father was still the sporting director. He afterwards became the Optimist coach at Torbole before a brief period again in Arco and finally arriving here in Malcesine.

Alice decided to move on and become part of the Melges Europe team, working with our very own Luisa Bambozzi. Camilla remained to help out during regattas and for three or four days a week in the office during the summer.

For me personally 2016 was the most challenging year yet but the excellent support of this group helped me to push on and overcome the difficulties.

How could I not thank Bepe Devoti who has always believed in me, supported me and spurred me to give of my best every day. He has kept my feet firmly on the ground and twisted my ear when it was necessary.

There every day but out of the limelight Beppe driven only by his enthusiasm does an amazing amount for the Fraglia, for the racing squad and for the coaches without ever asking for thanks or reward. He often has to deal with difficult problems and I don’t know how he does it with such serenity. He is one of our most important assets I am only sorry not everybody appreciates what he does.

2016 was also the year we won two junior European titles, Gaia in the Optimist and Edoardo in the Techno 293. There was also the team title in the Optimist and the national title in the 420 with Spagnolli-Rio. Foiling week was more complicated with the addition of the GC32 which brought with it not only a good show but also a good quantity of problems.

We just have to continue in this direction

And here we are in 2017, the seventieth anniversary of the Fraglia Vela Malcesine.

2017 is a year full of new experiences, activities and satisfaction. It is also the year that has brought us two new additions to the sailing club in the shape of Liam and Sami the twin children of Ylena and Luigi.

We will remember this year for the addition of the Gymnasium FVM GYM to our list of activities and the work needed to bring the Malcesinese to take advantage of this of this excellent facility. We will remember it also for the excellent work done by the sailing and windsurf school and the success of the Malcesine Summer Camp which with the collaboration of the Football club brought the summer camp back to Malcesine after a time away.
We will also remember it for the return of Alice as my assistant to help me manage all our activities, for the arrival of Nicole who helps out with the
youngsters in the Optimist and for the arrival of Toni who has done a magnificent job helping Gerard in the boat-park.
It will also be remembered for the Moth Worlds which was the sailing event most keenly anticipated after the America’s Cup.

In particular it is a moment to reflect on the ten years of work invested in forming a group of young club members, squad members and ex-team members who during the season of the sailing school and the organisation of the regattas work together with us. It is for this reason we have over twenty youngsters who are either instructors, trainee instructors or assistant instructors all from within the club. It is concrete proof of the energy and dedication shown by the President and board members who have worked to bring the project Fraglia to a conclusion.

mattia lonardi 2019 fraglia vela malcesine lago garda scaled

In this brief article I have not had time to recount all that has occurred during my time at the Fraglia in the last ten years. I would like however tho thank all the most important people. Roland Rienzner and Flavio Benamati indispensable on the management committee and during regattas. Marco Balich together with Gerard and Paolo adept at setting out courses for the regattas. Angelo a pillar of strength in the logistics of the Fraglia , all the youngsters who help out in the school and help with other activities. Richard, Andrea, Alvise, Verena, Rico, Barison, Naldi, Emil, Valentina,
Lisa, Sofia, Simone, Matteo C, Matteo S, Maria P, Pietro, Planche, Dimitri, Alessandro, Federico, Maria C, Gaia, Giorgia, Kevin, Francesco, Marco and Michele, my family and my partner who have always supported me.
Ylena who taught me to focus on an objective and to achieve it, Alessandro Miolato for his passion and dedication. Paolo Benedetti for the will and the capacity to bring to fruition an objective. Gianni Testa for his trust and foresight for being a president who believes in the ability of young people to take their place in society when many times their wing are clipped before
being given chance to fly.

We just have to continue in this direction. Happy 70th birthday
Fraglia Vela Malcesine.