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Sailing Camp - Lago di Santa Croce - Palestra di Vela
"One Should Learn to Sail in all Winds" - Italian Proverb
I was dashing in a hurry on my way to Venice through the first long tunnel when coming out I just did not believe my eyes! The lake of Santa Croce was full of little white sails moving like small toys on its surface. I first thought I wasn't seeing well - slowed down and the vision was still there - sails and sailboats where ever you looked. On my way back I was more than curious and decided to drive by the lakeshore and find out what was going on with all this sailing?
I would like to introduce to you the sailing camp at the Lago di Santa Croce near the small town of Farra d'Alpago in the province Veneto. You could never imagine this lake to be the ideal place for learning how to sail.
What makes it such a special place to learn you may ask?
In order to properly answer this question let me first describe where the lake is located. The Lago di Santa Croce is about 80 km north of Venice, just north of the most southern end of the Alps. So warm southern air reaches the lake unimpeded by the mountains.
Set your clock at 2 PM. Hot thermal wind starts blowing over the lake from south to north and it keeps on blowing all afternoon. You can rely on this landward breeze up to 22 knots blowing until sunset. In a nutshell, that is what makes it so special!
Believe it or not, for a few years only a few people knew about this natural curiosity. Tullio Sain came across it by chance while visiting this region some 15 years ago. Now he is the vice - president of the Federazione Italiana di Vela - Comitato 13th Zona, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia .
He immediately understood the lake's unique importance and took the necessary initiatives to organize a summer camp of sailing school for young people from all over Italy. They come and learn to sail and train here for sailing competitions and regattas.
The summer sailing camp starts every year on June 15th and goes on for 4 consecutive weeks. It offers 5 different courses for juniors starting from the age of 7 up to the age of 18. They come from all over Italy. They train with specialized instructors the juniors in different categories of boats, singles or doubles, classification and models such as Laser, 420, 470, Contender, Optimist and International FJ. The young people learn the fundamental rules of sailing and they are preparing for the first experiences of competition and regattas.
One important summer event is the meeting of the young sailing teams to experience their first competitive regatta. Some of Italy's future champions, national as well as Olympic champions, learned and trained in the sailing school of Farra. Some names you will find in the Italian Teams participating in the American Cup Regatta.
The sailing courses last for 5 days and the juniors are well taken care of.
The infrastructure has been well developed. The young sailors stay in the Hotel Bortoluzzi where the Signora Teresa, the owner of the place, is personally supervising that no one should get up hungry from the table. She even looks after those kids who need special diets or just an extra sweet if the winds blew that day the wrong way for some of them….
For many years the administration of the town of Farra d'Alpago cooperates with the Federazione and the Lega Navale Sezione Belluno together. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of the sailing school, develop and promote the sport of sailing.
Faustino Peterle is the local coordinator who works together with the Federazione and the community to promote the lake and what it has to offer to the sailing community. He is personally involved because of his enthusiasm for the sport of sailing. His young daughter is taking an active part in welcoming the young groups of future "sailors and champions " showing them around the place.
The town itself is a quiet small town with no criminality around, just the beautiful view of the Dolomites and the crystal clear water of the lake. Farra also offers the visitor to enjoy the surroundings and make daily trips into the high Dolomites, the Pian di Cansiglio or visit some world heritage cities including the crown jewel of Venice.
While talking to Tullio - I asked him what he thinks is most important for the young people to learn in these weeks of sailing?
This was his answer:
"Sailing is more than just recreation. It is a learning platform, an observation post, and a transportation system of awareness, a new understanding. All crewmembers, young or old alike, learn to take responsibility for the ship, for learning how to work it, for shipmates and ultimately for themselves. They learn to trust themselves as well as others...'da spazio per l'anima...it opens your soul..."
I would also like to introduce to you Tarcisio Segantin, the local vice president of the
Lega Navale Italiana - Sezione a Belluno - the sailing association in Belluno.
The Association was founded in 1970 by former members of the Italian "Marina Militare. Today they count about 150 active members. Their main objective is the agonistic, competitive sailing as sport. The lake's unique geography and reliable thermal winds offer optimal training conditions for national competitions and international regattas.
The sailing marina is on the lake just apposite Farra d'Alpago.
They are well equipped to organize competition meetings such as
the annual ones described above. They furnish the necessary materials, boats, secure dinghies and clothing, specialized instructors to train you in sailing.
The season is from June to September. The school offers theoretical as well as practical sailing courses. Working in groups up to 6 people, students can receive certification after passing the necessary test.
I would like to add a word about the history of the geological formation of the lake. Tarcisio told me the lake dates back to an earthquake around 1000 years ago. Sediment from the valley blocked the flow of the River Piave and formed the lake.
Ecologically the area is in full equilibrium. The lake has a rich fauna with many types of fishes. The quality of the water of the lake is " drinkable ". There is a continuous control of the local entities regarding the preservation of nature. No motorboats are allowed on the lake. The local community and the Province is continually improving the sailing facilities, always mindful about preservation, protection and keeping respect to nature, the lake and the beauty of the area.
For those who would like to know more about this area, its facilities, its offer for sailing, its summer camp for sailing for juniors or generally, here are some references:
Should you be in the area you don't want to miss the regatta BARCOLANA in Trieste starting September 30 through October 6, 2006. About 2000 sailing boats are participating at this international competition.
By Eva Fabian