In the Pink For Europe

July 8 th 2018 - 11:23

The European team on Pink Lady – Pays de L’Or – Hérault represent a wider initiative to broaden the reach of a programme which raced last year with a mixed male-female team. A recruitment programme ran through last winter to find young talent representing different European countries.
Since coming together they have trained out of La Grande Motte from the Centre d’Entraînment Méditerrannée.

The recruitment process started in December 2017 and by the end of January they had a team together. Since then they have done nearly 40 days of training and racing together to form a young team hungry for success and full of energy. Belgian Pieter Tack, 24, is co-skipper and the most experienced of the team, on his third year with the CEM Diam 24 OD projects.

Romain Simonnot, 22, is French and was a top Laser sailor from the Med until his progress as compromised by a bad kite surfing accident. Helm is Lucas Chatonnier, 22, who grew up in New Caledonia. He has spent recent years in Auckland at the RNZYS’s academy and is part of the French youth squad in the NACRA 17. Italian 20 year old Jacopo Rizzi is tactician and helm and has an American mum and Italian father who is a gondolier in Venice. He splits his time between Doges, Turin where he studies and the waters of Europe where he sails. And Germany’s 21 year old Johan Kohlhoff is the youngest of three sailing brothers from Kiel. He raced Lasers to the highest level, ranked third in Germany, indeed he raced against Romain Simonnot at many championships.

Pink Lady® is a well known apple brand which reaches a pan European market. Their apple growers are mainly in the south of France, the Emilie Romagna and South Tyrol regions of Italy and Catalonia in Spain. Pays de L’Or is a group of eight communities totalling more than 200,000 residents, the best known to sailing fans is probably La Grande Motte, home of the Centre d’Entraînment Méditerannée. And Hérault is a larger department on the Med coast which includes Montpellier, the Canal du Midi and Sète and many beautiful sandy beaches.

20 year old Jacopo Rizzi is the youngest of the team, “ Previously I was sailing 470s on Lake Como to national team level before this presented itself then, I still train in the 470 but this is it at the moment. I was born in Texas but moved to Italy when I was two years old. I go back to Texas every year but grew up in Italy. We did between 30 and 40 days of training. My dad is a gondolier and I am training to become one too. And in November I should be qualified. It is a very particular job. It is a unique job. It is working outside, on the water in Venice. What’s not to like?”

Of their prospects and hopes, Rizzi says, “You know what, if we start of right we can do well, but it has to go right. When it is going right everything is fluent, everything is flowing. Nothing can stop us. We have a certain spirit but this is the first time we all four have sailed together.

English is the language spoken on board, the young Italian admits, “ Sometimes it works! It also helps that Lucas and Pieter can speak in French to each other. We have a lot of energy on the boat, sometimes too much. On the water we are a bit too inconsistent. We can be very fast but then we can be slow, we need to iron that out and just go fast. Starting-wise we can go better.”

Johann Kohlhoff raced in Bermuda as part of SVB Team Germany, along with his two brothers. In fact his elder brother was lined up to join the team but suffered a brain illness which nearly cost him his life. He is well again and racing right now at the Nacra 17 European Championships in Poland.

Sunday 8th, 6pm, Dunerque 

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