SLAM Team: 2023 achievements and life approach

The sailing we enjoy

©Elena Giolai/SLAM


Between Guadeloupe, Portugal and Japan, the athletes proudly flying the SLAM flag as they achieve their respective feats have outdone themselves once again, providing days brimming with emotions, smiles, tears, podiums, victories, withdrawals; achievements that confirm their commitment, their training, their research, their growth not just as sailors but as individuals. Additional chapters to their stories inspired by the sea and sport, written on the waves and winds, on water and sacrifice.

One of the many reasons we adore our SLAM ambassadors is that they are more than just athletes, they are sailors, surfers, normal ‘people’. It is these very people who overcomes crippling fatigue across endless miles in the name of a challenge never before attempted, or who, despite having prepared for the regatta in every way imaginable and despite having studied the course from every technical standpoint, is forced to surrender to the forces of nature, crashing down on him in a matter of seconds and shattering in those same few seconds a dream pursued for years with dogged commitment, sacrifice, research and attention to detail. This is how we like our heroes, that they can still remain human with all that being human entails. This is true heroism. There are no computers, no weather forecasts, no calculations of any kind that hold when nature turns against you: to have prepared everything possible to the best of one's ability is already in itself a great achievement for those who chase their dreams, even in sports.

Thus, the autumn months leading into the northern hemisphere’s winter have witnessed the writing of many a tale of the sea, of sailing, of men and women who have contributed their own chapters to the SLAM story: some have achieved goals that had at first seemed hopeless, others have had to give up on that same hope due to external forces, on the outset of a new challenge. It is, however, how one deals with the unexpected that makes the difference. Challenges across the world’s seas are first and foremost personal challenges, often shared with a team with whom one tries to grow and improve day by day: this is the fundamental point of focus.

Professional windsurfing, PWA: Matteo Iachino becomes Slalom World Champion

A perfect season for Matteo Iachino, who, as the first Italian in history to win the PWA Slalom World Championship title in 2016, returned to the podium at the end of the fifth and final leg just completed in Japan. After four second places, Iachino claimed his title once again as the ‘Slalom King', this time crowned alongside with his girlfriend, Spain's Blanca Alabau, also a Slalom winner! Matteo won the title after the five PWA World Tour stages held from May to November in the world's hallmark windsurfing spots: Torbole, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Sylt and Yokosuka. In October, between stages, Iachino was also the star of another exceptional achievement: the windsurfing crossing from Sardinia to Tuscany completed in 9 hours and 45 minutes, covering 200 miles. 

Olympic Sailing: Italian silver and bronze in the Nacra 17 European Championships with Tita-Banti and Ugolini-Giubilei; silver and Olympic qualification in the 49er FX with Germani-Bertuzzi

The Italian Sailing Federation continues its series of successes achieved by an increasingly united team of winners, with the Paris Olympics just around the corner. We are now so accustomed to the Nacra 17 class achieving exceptional results and our Italian sailors did not disappoint: renowned champions Tita-Banti won silver, followed closely by the incredibly young duo Ugolini-Giubilei, who did not stand by idly, however, bringing home a bronze medal after a complicated week in terms of weather conditions. And so, Italy’s streak continues at the top of this class. But perhaps the greatest gift, a double gift even, came from the 49FX Olympic skiff with Jana Germani and Giulia Bertuzzi on board, who not only claimed a silver medal, but also qualified Italy for Paris 2024.

Mini-Transat: Carlos Manera second overall for Proto

Then there are those who race across the ocean in a boat only 6.5 metres long. More and more crews are seeking to add their names to the historic challenges of great sailors by taking part in the Mini-Transat. Spanish sailor Carlos Manera confirmed his position after the first leg between Les Sables d'Olonne and Santa Cruz de La Palma. Upon arrival in Guadalupe, Carlos had this to say: "Finishing the race on the podium is obviously fantastic, although I was aiming to win. I had a few small crashes, which reminded me right away that the first objective in an Atlantic crossing is to get to the other side in one piece! It was amazing to see that the boat was able to go so fast, even though it required a lot of effort, both physical and mental".

Transat Jacques Vabre: the SLAM Squad on the water and ashore

The early stages of the Transat Jacques Vabre were at the mercy of the weather, with violent storms arriving in the days following the start. In view of this, the organisers decided to reduce the risk for participants by varying the route for the Class 40s, who therefore sailed the first leg from Le Havre to Lorient, so that they could wait for the passage of the Ciaran storm and set off again a few days later. Despite these arrangements, there was no shortage of problems brought on by the ocean: an undoubtedly painful first and last leg for Alberto Riva, who was literally thrown to the deck of his boat after a wave knocked him off his feet during a manoeuvre on the headsail. And with a fracture on his tibial plateau, dreams were dashed for Alberto and his co-skipper Jean Marre together aboard Acrobatica. However, Alberto did not lose heart and immediately after surgery found his role as a TV commentator for his fellow competitors racing to Guadalupe, where he was able to rejoice at their excellent results. Some dismasted, some hoped to do better, yet they all faced their challenges as heroes, achieving great accomplishments. 

Here are some of the thoughts and intentions of a few of SLAM’s people, always looking ahead, condensed into valuable daily messages:

IMOCA 60 Team Arnaud Boissières La mie Caline, Arnaud Boissières and Gerald Veniard, 26th place: "It was an adventure full of lessons to be learned, which will all serve to refine Arnaud's preparation for the Vendée Globe 2024 solo race".

IMOCA 60 Groupe Dubreuil-Sebastien Simon and Iker Martinez, 18th place; Iker’s devastated message: 'We thought we were going to win. We told ourselves: OK, this is the right place to go, we are going west; We only had one boat in front, we were going faster, we were pushing hard, we were in it to win it. I think we were two miles from the leader when the mainsail broke into a thousand pieces. I don't know what happened, it just exploded. The J3 also exploded. Another dream shattered, this time into a thousand little shreds of sail.


Everial Sailing Team- Erwan Le Draoulec and Tanguy Leglatin, 4th place: "It was a great event and a great competition, with all the perfect ingredients that make up a transatlantic race. We never argued, we always spoke to one another, we respected each other and, above all, we had a lot of fun."

Project Rescue Ocean: Axel Tréhin and Gewnael Riou; Axel after retiring wrote:

The unexpected

It is a very familiar word in our daily lives; it seems, however, that in our modern society it is increasingly difficult to handle the unexpected. That the unexpected causes annoyance, that uncertainty generates anxiety, that lack of control can paralyse. I would be happy to suggest a number of ocean racing courses...Right now I should be on the water with my co-skipper competing in our main sporting objective of the year, the Transat Jacques Vabre. Instead, it's a sudden return to life ashore, with a boat to secure in harbour in preparation of an almost unprecedented storm, and Gwen having to deal with a blown-out window at home in her storm-swept Finistère (ed: Brittany's most famous region brimming with Celtic culture). These extreme weather events could have caused me a great deal of stress. I think a few years ago this would have been the case. Today, I have learnt to let go of that which I cannot control (if I can’t beat them I might as well enjoy them!). The unexpected is an integral part of my life, starting with every time I go out to sea. There's the little handbook of life and then there's reality, the one you have to constantly adapt to. A form of mental gymnastics that we should all do more often!"

Acrobatica: Alberto Riva and Jean Marre, retired due to injury: Alberto had only one fear on the eve of setting sail on the Transat, that of getting hurt, the one thing he could neither foresee nor prevent; and that is exactly what happened. For Alberto Riva, the only Italian in the SLAM Squad, we will not give one of his statements, but give you the chance to listen to the recording of his participation in the evening organised by the Italian Yacht Club in Genoa and conducted by journalist Fabio Pozzo.

LE RIRE MEDICINE (OCEAN 50s): Antoine Jouber, Luke Berry, retired due to dismasting and left hull detachment

The incident occurred a few hours after the Ocean 50 fleet had resumed the Transat Jacques Vabre from Lorient on 6th November, racing in 25-30 knots of wind and 5-metre waves. We had two reefs on the mainsail and the J3 on the foredeck, the smallest sail you can have. At one point the boat jumped off a wave and when it landed, it split: the port hull came off and at the same time we dismasted. We are obviously disappointed with this forced retirement, but we still treasure our second place in the first leg of the Transat Jacques Vabre and our great results for the 2023 season. We just have to keep moving forward, understand what happened and rebuild the boat! We will be there in 2024!

For the crew, the next challenge was to recover all the parts of the trimaran with the help of Adrien Hardy and his staff, experts and sea rescue services, and then return with their makeshift solutions to Saint Malò on their own.

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