Lake Garda Optimist Clinic kick-off


Friday 23 March marks the beginning of Zealous Sailing’s four-day Lake Garda Optimist Clinic, Zealous’ largest event outside of New Zealand since establishment in 2014.

It marks a special moment in the company’s short history. “Connecting sailors from different cultures and background has always been a part of our mission,” said head coach Sam McKenzie, “with a diverse group of sailors from Australia, Finland, Ireland and Latvia I’m really looking forward to the next four days on the water”.

Zealous Sailing’s approach has always gone beyond the scope of regular sailing clinic. Built firmly into the company’s mantra is a holistic philosophy of leadership, responsibility, sportsmanship and sustainability. “There is a certain element of our coaching that goes beyond technical ability. Sailing, both directly and indirectly has the opportunity to teach teenagers and young adults invaluable life lessons,” said McKenzie. “As a coach, I am very conscious to highlight these lessons to our young sailors, with the hope that they come away from our training with more than just getting faster around the race track.”

It’s not only the sailors that come from a diverse background. Zealous Sailing’s Lake Garda Clinic will consist of coaches from Australia, Finland and New Zealand, with experience ranging from national championship titles, to participation in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. “A range of experience across our coaches is invaluable. It ensures the coaches themselves are always developing and generating new ideas to pass on to sailors. Tom has an absolute wealth of experience from dinghy racing through to ocean racing with everything in between. Elias is fresh off the 29er scene in Europe, he is analytical and has great experience racing in Garda.” said McKenzie “This combination of talent and experience has the ability to foster innovation and growth which will ultimately provide sailors with a fresh perspective.”

The four day clinic in Riva del Garda promises strong winds and long sessions. In preparation for the Country Cup and Lake Garda Meeting the focus of the clinic will include…

  • Refined speed and technique – sailing fast in strong breeze + sharp chop

  • Start execution – putting yourself in winning position.

  • Scenario analysis – risk vs. reward (line bias vs. “gain-side”)

“Lake Garda demands sailing execution. The line bias and favoured right side require sailors to practice, execute and deliver, time and time again. Those sailors that have the motivation to train hard over the coming days will certainly arrive at the Lake Garda meeting with a competitive advantage. Sometimes sailing just requires hard work, you have to put your head down and get the work done – racing in Garda can be a little like that.” said McKenzie. “The only difference - you’re sailing in one of the most beautiful places on earth – you can’t help but smile while you’re doing it!”