Interview with Carlotta Omari
First things first: why sailing? Tell us about the reasons that led you towards this fascinating, yet arduous sport.
I started with sailing at 6, mainly because my parents, the owners of a nautical shop needed to keep my bother Matteo and I busy during summer holidays. We used to live very close to the sea, so they decided to enrol us in a sailing class. To be honest, my first year was kind of a fiasco; however, on the following one we both managed to enter the advanced amateur team, and this is when my sailing career started. So I have to thank my parents for having pushed me towards this wonderful sport!
You have taken part (and won) in several world-level competitions, both with boats for single and team racing. How does your attitude towards a race changes when you are in a team?
I have taken part in several races on an Optimist (single boat for racers up to 15 years old), me against the others for the majority of them but also in a team with other people: it was really hard for me to see myself as a member of team and not a “solo” athlete. I remember the European championship in Ledro, 2008: I was the youngest and the most inexperienced one in the team, but following some team trainings we managed to win. I couldn’t believe it, as I’d never had thought I would have been able to do such a great teamwork with people I was used to consider as rivals (even if we were good friends ashore, competition was high off shore). When I was over with this small boat due to age limits, I switched to the 420 and I didn’t think I would have been able to get with someone else so well, as when you’re racing as a pair you’re sharing a lot – you really have to connect with your partner.
So it’s Optimist and 420: these are two types of boat you competed on in both national and international waters. Can you please quickly tell us about their main differences? Which one do you enjoy sailing the most, the Optimist or the 420?
Optimist is a sort of a little ‘bathtub’ in which most of the kids start to race at first, it has one sail only and, as I said, the age limit for it is 15. Once your experience with the Optimist is done you can choose within different kinds of boat, both for racing as a single or as a twosome. The majority of people choose 420, which I believe is a great boat as it allows you to share your joys and sorrows with someone else – a really unique experience. The majority of people can’t wait to give up on the Optimist, as it is considered to be a boring boat; as far as I’m concerned, I was really sorry to have to leave it and I still am as I’ve always thought and I still think it’s a wonderful boat, – even if I’m now racing on a high speed boat. It is where everything begins.
This said, I think the Optimist is an extremely bracing boat to race with, even if the 420 is a three-sails boat and it’s so much faster… and you can talk to someone else, so no need for monologues 😉
Let’s talk about team racing: you have competed in a team with the same partner more than once. How important to have a good feeling with the person sailing with you is?
I’ve partnered with the same girl for 5 years, and our relationship was enviable: there was no need to talk and we understood each other immediately. A year now I’ve been partnering with a new girl, and even if it’s been quite a short time we have a great kinship already: together we left the 420 and we’ve started our experience on an Olympic kind of boat, the 49er FX.
Tell us about a sailor’s training: does it happen on the water only, or is it paired with other training programmes?
In my opinion, the most the time you spend on the boat is the better. This is not enough though, as after leaving the Optimist you also need to workout in a gym to develop your muscles.
Sailing is a unique sport for many reasons: there’s a boat to be manoeuvred, a balance to be maintained, changes in the weather to be dealt with. Which are the main features of the ideal sailor?
I wouldn’t know, but I think it’s very important to stay humble and sportsmanlike, good-mannered and definitely always focused and ready to face anything. As it’s not uncommon for the wind to change and the race not to be voided, the same happens when there’s not even a breeze.
In this kind of sport, confort/convenience must be key: what’s the best attire for sailing? Any recommendations for starters?
I’ve always being very lucky: as my parents are in the nautical sector, my mum have always had a lot of clothes I could try on. Since when I was 8 until last year, I’ve always used drysuits at winter: it’s a seriously waterproof suit which doesn’t allow a single drop of water to pass through. It only takes to wear something insulating and breathable underneath it.
Nowadays, as I’m sailing on a boat requiring me to move a lot, I can’t use it anymore as I’d risk to have it clasped somewhere and have it ripped. I now use a long john, a neoprene wetsuit with a variable thickness: the colder the weather, the thicker the suit. During summer, I simply wear insulating shorts.
You’re only 22, and you already reached a lot fo goals: which are your future outlooks, any long-cherished dream?
I recently took on with this extraordinary yet difficult to manage kind of boat: I will have my first competition soon and I’m really excited. I think my partner Matilda and I will now focus on learning how to manage to manoeuvre this flying little boat; as for the future, I still don’t know, but you know what every athlete wishes for, and this is not far away for me!