Sailing is so much more than just a sport: it means facing up to immensity, learning to know yourself, protecting the environment and respecting others, even when adversaries. All values that are best learnt immediately.
This is why the Monaco Yacht Club strives constantly to encourage the young and very young to approach sailing. This is the inspiration behind the launch of the Monaco Optimist Academy, this year at its third edition.
Dedicated to under-14 promising sailors, this event is an important training opportunity for young sailors from around the world, which in 2019 surpassed 150 participants. The unique “open-source” formula adopted by the Monaco Optimist Academy means that coaches are in contact with their athletes, thereby making their teaching immediately applicable. To better understand this “workshop at sea”, we met with Paolo Ghione, Sports Manager of the Monaco Sport Academy.
"The culture of the sea as a school of life"
What led to the need to establish the Monaco Sport Academy?
The reason is to update and adapt the training method to the generation of “digital natives”. The young boys and girls of this generation, particularly during their adolescence, experience greater difficulty than previous generations in staying focussed on a single objective. The Monaco Sport Academy Technical Pool offers young girls and boys from Monaco concrete support to assure educational success, regardless of sports medals.
What is it like working with such young athletes?
It means taking care of them 360°: helping adolescents combine their studying with sport, family, private life and ambition is no easy task. If they express a desire to give up on sailing, we do not hide behind easy alibis but rather try to understand if something is going wrong with our method.
This means we need to be competent, able to question our approach and driven by a great passion.
Is it difficult to teach them respect, even in rivalry? Is sailing different from other sports in this respect?
Sailing is a very humble sport. It takes a great many skills to be able to excel and the route to success is a long one. We teach respect and fair play in our teams; rivalry alone soon becomes sterile and isolates those who take this approach. Sailing is an individual sport, but we train and travel as a group.
The MSA is part of the Monaco Yacht Club, which has always shown to have the training of youngsters at heart. Why is this activity so important?
Our Chairman, Prince Albert II, believes firmly in sport as an educational value. The Sport Academy strives to keep this belief alive, training young boys and girls with solid principles. In addition to November’s event, in fact, we also propose the SeAdventures Camps, multidisciplinary apprenticeships for boys and girls aged between 6 and 15. Because the real vocation of our Yacht Club is to convey the culture of the sea as a school of life and train a younger generation with strong values.