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Lake Garda - Lifestyle

Sailing Training on Lake Garda

Interview with Diego Romero Paschetta - Part 1

For many years now, we have been hosting sailing enthusiasts, teams of sailors, coaches and sometimes even real sailing champions. In fact, even the name we chose when the Residence was born in the 1990s (given our location in front of Porto San Niccolò) was a clear reference to this specific water sport, which over the years has almost become a “vocation” for us.

In addition to international champions such as Tom Slingsby, Iker Martinez and Tom Burton, we also hosted Olympic champion Diego Romero Paschetta, an Italian-Argentinian sailor, winner of numerous regattas for Italy and 1 Olympic medal in the Laser class.

Here is an interview with him, where he talks about his experience sailing training on Lake Garda and why he has chosen our residence several times for his training needs.


Diego, how do you organize your training for sailing competitions, and why have you chosen Residence Centro Vela as your training venue several times?

The first time I went to Centro Vela was in 2005, and it was also my first time in Riva. I immediately liked the location. It wasn’t so much the proximity to the lake or to the Vela Torbole club, where I trained, but the fact it was so close to the cycle path, the supermarket and the lakeside promenade where I often went for a run. It was essential for me to start the day with the right energy, and being able to run early in the morning along the lake was perfect!

So in 2007, when I joined the Italian Olympic team, I put great pressure on FIV to allow me to train here on Lake Garda, at the Residence Centro Vela, instead of in Genoa, the FIV headquarters.

Given the excellent results I got, I decided to return to Centro Vela in 2008, to prepare for the Olympics. It is not just a comfortable residence; it is a place where I found a family who welcomed me every time. I especially appreciated the human aspect, a very important element for athletes who spends most of their time away from their family, and therefore miss them so much on difficult days. It is essential to find support, to feel at home.

I have never come back to other places as much as Centro Vela. It is not so easy to find a place like this residence. In a sport like sailing, where you spend many hours alone in the water, it is very important to be able to count on helpful and welcoming hosts, who are also willing to help you out. Trust is very important, and so you wish to go back there for the relationship that has been established.

diego romero
Diego Romero
Diego Romero


What is so special about training on Lake Garda? Why did you want to train here for the sailing Olympics?

2005 was the year of my great leap; I finished second in the world championship after training for 2 months on Lake Garda. It was certainly very important to me.

Many foreigners, when they come to Italy, choose to train on the lake. So from there on, I understood what that the lake has to offer. It is limited in some ways, there are some things you can’t get on a lake, such as waves, currents, etc. But everything else is very difficult to find in other parts of the world. This is why it was very important to train here on Lake Garda. It was essential in that sense.

Then, when I got to know the place, the first thought I had was that for an athlete – not just a sailor, an athlete in general – the lake is like an amusement park. As an “outdoor sportsperson” you can do really a lot of things. Trekking, road cycling, mountain biking, paragliding, swimming etc. It’s a unique place, where you can practice everything! This was also very important to me.

There’s another very important element to consider that I always mention to the athletes I meet. There are many places in the world where you can train to sail, but they are either inhospitable (in terms of hospitality) or not safe from a health point of view. So you need to bear in mind where and when you train!

If something happens to you in the water, or you have a bicycle accident, the health system here on the lake also affects your choice – indeed, it is a very important point to consider. I especially realized that when I became a coach, because when you are an athlete you are more focused on training, but as a coach you are responsible for many things, including the wellbeing of your athletes.

Your career as a sailor is very rich. Can you share some anecdotes from your stay in Riva del Garda, in preparation for the 2008 Olympics?

CONI had sent an anti-doping inspector, who arrived very early in the morning.
Tomas, the owner of the Residence Centro Vela, called me to let me know he was there, but I was in the shower and could not hear, so the inspector finally went up and knocked on my door. At the time, I had just bought a new bike, but I still kept my old one in the apartment. On the table in my living room there were some long elastic bands that looked like tourniquets, which I actually used to train, certainly not for anything else.
So, the inspector entered the apartment and I saw him constantly looking around, staring repeatedly at the two bikes first, and then at the elastic bands with a puzzled face, until he asked me “Do you cycle?” and I replied “Yes, I really like cycling” and we started chatting. At one point, he said to me “Do you know that there is a lot of doping in the cycling world?” I naturally replied that yes, I knew that well. And then he added “What about you?” “No, no! Not me!!!”
After a few minutes, he was supposed to take a blood sample for anti doping tests, and I was hoping there wouldn’t be any nasty surprises since I never took anything. In fact, everything went well.


I also wanted to share another anecdote. This one happened on the day of my departure for Beijing, during my last morning at Residence Centro Vela.

The day before departure, I had arranged a ride to the bus station with Tomas. So, in the morning I went down to reception with all my suitcases, but Tomas was busy with a customer. So I went for a walk, I got back after a few minutes but Tomas was again busy with another client. I only had about 10 minutes before the bus left. I kept waiting. Once he was dome with the customer, Tomas asked me when my bus was supposed to be, and I replied “It leaves in 10 minutes!”
And Tomas asked me “Why didn’t you say anything!” “You were always busy!” I replied.
“You had to come and get me! Come on, let’s go, quick!”
We made it to the station, Tomas left his car in front of the station entrance and, while I got the ticket, he ran to the bus that was about to close its doors, blocked it and shouted at the driver “Wait, there is one more!! But it’s not me…it’s someone else!”
It was great. He stopped the bus to wait for me and then told me “Remember to win the one of the right colour!” And when I got back from the games, he immediately said to me “You got the wrong colour!”
If it hadn’t been for Tomas, perhaps, I wouldn’t have made it to my plane on time, and I wouldn’t have been able to participate in the Olympic Games! (laughing).

The interview with Diego Romero Paschetta continues in our next post Training for the Sailing Olympics where we share some more info about his preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


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