Sailyachts 14 December 2017
The Caprera Sailing Center, Italy’s best-known sailing school, is turning fifty. It does so defined by its love of the sea, the wind, boats and sailing. It has created a tribe of passionate sailors: at the CVC you have fun, you suffer and you learn. And you keep going back
by Luca Sordelli
A hundred and twenty thousand “Caprerini” sailors around the world. They aren’t just ex students, men and women who have gone through CVC over the fifty years of its existence. They are real “Caprerini”, a special breed of sailors who at the start of their life on the waves have been through an imprinting process that cannot be removed.
Learning how to sail at Porto Palma, a much-blessed and well-protected natural harbour to the south of Caprera in the Maddalena Archipelago, is a special experience which creates a kindred spirit, and leaves a mark.
Everything started out in 1967 from a project organised by the Milan section of the Italian Naval League and the Italian Touring Club, with the sponsorship of the Navy, which allows the use of the military base at Caprera in the Maddalena Archipelago. That was how the Caprera Sailing Centre (CVC) started. Back then it took two days to get from Milan to Sardinia, and half a day to get to Caprera. There were just rocks, maestral winds, myrtle bushes, cormorants, clear light…
A lot of things have changed since then. Running water and electricity have arrived, and of course the boats are different (and a lot of attention has also been paid to skiffs) and getting to the Caprera Sailing Center is a lot simpler.
But the key values are still there, like direct contact with nature and total respect for it, and a lifestyle which fits in with a timetable laid down by the sun, the moon and – most of all – the wind At the CVC you suffer, but you learn and you keep coming back.
What is the secret of this success? The Caprera Sailing Center is like a big boat. Instructors and students are the crew. You just need to spend a few minutes there to lose all link to the rest of the world. You get sailing straight away. And that is a little miracle. Even people who know nothing about sailing and have never set foot on a boat set straight out. You just have to do it. The vacation begins, in the Latin sense of the word: “vacuum”. Nothing else exists.
Then there are the daily rituals, like the long walk at the beginning and the end of the day from the base to the boats, on the sun-baked track that runs along the sea; but also the watches, the safety boats, the habits created in lessons, knots, tacks, and even capsizing always taught in the same spirit.
This is owing to the capacity to create and keep a method, which has adjusted to the times, but always stays the same. And surviving in the face of all adversity. The Caprera Sailing Center is the only human settlement on the island and thanks to its ecologically sustainable approach it helps keep the island in its original, natural state.
It is also a promoter of charitable and social sustainability projects like the regattas for people affected by ALS, organised by Antonello Tovo, at Caprera Sailing Center instructor and president of the Acque Libere association, or the “di Vele in meglio” (from sails to better) regattas for cancer patients.