On the Road to Rio via Tuscany
Light winds, clear days, staying focused.


Visit Tuscany. At least once.

On crisp spring mornings exiled Napoleon could just make out the village spire of Gavorrano to the east of his jail, the island of Elba. Gavorrano is one of those medieval villages perched on a hill with roads like vermicelli dropped on a plate half-designed to confuse breathless pirates trudging up to sack the place.

The shores where these hungry-eyed buccaneers used to sail their boats up to with dreams of pillaging Gavorrano have now been stepped on, paved, built up, inserted with cranes, slips, pontoons, jetties, and the occasional gelateria. Now known as the Marina di Scarlino more than 750 boats sleep there, safe from the whims of the Tyrrhenian sea. Marinas have seasonal lives, waking up from their winter slumber around April before going back to sleep around September. Canny Marina owners try to slip in a few regattas between October and March to keep everyone a little busier a little earlier.

So it was that in March 2012, a few months after Ioannis had qualified in his Finn dinghy for the London Olympics he set off to race in Scarlino. After the first days racing he found himself at the bottom of the pile. The thing with racing a sailboat in light winds is that it requires a lot of patience. So he decided to disregard the results and focus on racing fast, and carefully.

He would take one race at a time, cross one bridge at a time. It payed off. By staying focused every moment he was crowned European champion for the year. One race, one start, one tack at a time. Never mind the frustrating wind, never mind the gorgeous Tuscan scenery. Ignore the mountains of history around. Conquer the moment, he told us, but make time later to study the other moments.