Ruggero Tita, a golden boy

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This article is published in number 44 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until November 2, 2021

The photo shoot ended – which is rare – a few hours earlier than expected: Ruggero Tita he really seems to have the attitude of a model, he finds it easy to pose in front of the lens, as if he did it for a living. But in reality he does quite the opposite: graduated in computer engineering in Trento, he is a sailor, one of the few people now know well. He has won a lot, a lot, and now too gold at the last Olympics, those of Tokyo 2020, bringing Italian sailing back to the top step of the podium, 21 years after Alessandra Sensini won the Olympic title in Sydney.

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We would like to congratulate his parents, his mother Mirta and his father Mauro: Ruggero is polite, determined, kind, good-looking and – let’s face it – also quite stylish with his strictly striped cashmere sweater. Falconeri (“He is the sponsor of the Italian Sailing Federation and I admit I have a passion for their sweaters”).

We are here on a fashion set: how is her style when she has her feet on land?
«I dress casual and I need what I wear to be comfortable, even if I like to wear items that are always a little sophisticated. I admit: I have a weakness for cashmere sweaters, preferably blue ».

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But let’s get to gold: what has it changed for her and in her?
«To tell the truth, I tried to make sure that he changed as little as possible about me: as soon as I returned from Tokyo, my thought was to go in the water to train, with the same desire I had before. What has changed, if anything, is the perception that others have of me: I realize that now my words have more weight, as if they could influence more than before. Now I feel in a washing machine: every day there is an event or something to do. Having said that, the important thing for me is to go back to boating and find that strength and determination to win again. It is not easy to give yourself another goal: after that medal – I tell myself – what should I do more? But, in reality, there is one thing: another gold at the next Olympics. And in between there will be many other opportunities to win: I am thinking of the next America’s Cup. Also this year I should have embarked on Luna Rossa, but, with the Olympics being postponed, I could not and had to choose whether to Tokyo or Auckland. I preferred to follow a dream, and it went well! ».

We saw her on the trapeze, suspended and lying parallel to the water: but how does she train physically?
«Before competitions I usually do 10 days of training in the water, preferably at the sea, and 5 days of athletic training at home. I work a lot with the BlazePod, a set of dimmable lights that turn on in a programmed way and turn off if you press them: they help reflexes, coordination and attention, all important things for regattas. Then there is the more muscular part and for that I train on the ergometer, the rowing simulator, and I do weights. I also work a lot on trunk stabilization, often practicing on unstable surfaces, standing on the ball or on tilting boards ».

I imagine a training for sailing also involves developing “tactical” skills. How do they increase?
“It is a team effort: I am followed by Gabriele Bruni, the national team coach, then there is a whole staff that deals with athletic training, there are also a physiotherapist and a boat builder, the one who cares about equipment and hull care. The tactical ability is a fundamental element, but we must not put too much theory into it: being there to reason analytically it is difficult to have the necessary reaction speed. I think the best exercise is getting used to getting out of your comfort zone and thus avoiding any sort of automatism, which occurs when you only move in a field you know too well. So, for example, I try to push myself further: I launch paragliding, I try extreme sports that require quick reasoning, with choices to be made in a short time ».

How is your day going?
«I wake up at 7, gym from 7.30 to 9.30, then an hour of rest and around 11 I go to the club to prepare the boat, which takes no less than an hour and a half. Then you stay in the water for two to four hours. Back, it takes us an hour to reassemble everything and repair any damage. After that we go home and, with the coach, we do it briefing detailed, analyzing the various videos. At that point it was eight in the evening, a quick dinner and an early sleep ».

You do the regattas with Caterina Banti: do you have a different attitude to the fact that she is a girl?
«When you are in the water no, there are no differences, no particular kindness. In spite of what one might think, I am the helmsman and Caterina is the bow, the one who does the most physically heavy work. But on the ground I try to be more gallant! ».

In 2021, between Luna Rossa and your gold, the headlights on the world of sailing were re-focused: what are the news that we should expect?
«We saw the first results immediately: the sailing schools sold out this summer. Ours is a country surrounded by the sea, but who knows why we tend to look towards the land. I hope these successes serve to change perspective ».

What is the secret to being a good athlete?
“Be a good person. The crafty athlete hardly comes out in the long run. These are paths that take a long time, there are no shortcuts and the tricks are not worth it ».

Ruggero Tita, sailing champion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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