INTERVIEW WITH AN OPTIMIST SAILOR: ROCCO FALCONEThursday 8th November 2018
Looking ahead to the 2019 Optimist World Championship being held in Antigua in July, the event host team sits down with Antiguan optimist sailor Rocco Falcone for an inteview.
© Matias Capizzano
"Rocco Falcone has been one of Antigua’s most successful Optimist sailors, placing 7th overall in the 2015 North American Championships and 2nd of the North American sailors. Born in Antigua in Dec 2000, he started learning at the age of 6 sailing Lasers with his parents and sailing at the Antigua Yacht Club. Rocco started racing competitively from 11. Now at university studying for a major in Business Management, he took the time to tell us about his experiences sailing in Antigua and around the world.
What is the sailing culture like for young people in Antigua?
Antigua is very lucky to have a yacht club that supplies all the boats and coaches for a very reasonable price. The youth sailing is very good, and with NSA encouraging locals to go sailing the sport has started to grow.
How important is Optimist sailing to young sailors?
The opti class is a very important class for the youth. It is one of the most challenging dinghies that anyone would sail. Most of the Olympic sailors come from the Optimist Class at an early age.
Who has inspired you and why?
Definitely my brother Shannon Falcone (Competed and won some of the biggest sailing events in the world, Volvo, Americas Cups etc. He helped complete one of the largest comebacks in sporting history) Shannon is my idol and someone I look up too. My parents Carlo Falcone and Paola Vittoria have always supported me, allowing me to travel and compete in events all around the world and Karl James from Antigua Yacht Club for always pushing me in training and allowing me to get better.
What has been your favourite place to sail in the world and why?
Lake Garda, Italy. The sailing culture is amazing. The weather is always perfect for sailing and the amount of people that you are able to train with while sailing is amazing. Eveyone sails over there. They also have a large variety of boats sailing everyday (Kite surfers, melges sailors, opti sailors, multiple kinds of keel boats are always out on the water).
Antigua is also one of favourites with a really good breeze. The only thing that is missing in Antigua is more sailors. The more sailors we have the more we are able to learn from each other and be able to compete against the best teams. Racing in Antigua is very fun, but training can get hard.
What advice would you give to Optimist sailors entering the 2019 world championship?
Train as much as you can leading up to the event and make sure you are fit because the wind and waves do make it very physically demanding.
What are your top recommendations of things to do in Antigua?
Definitely check out as many beaches as possible, we have 365 of them! Sting Ray city is also fantastic - a really unique experience.
Any amusing stories to tell us?
When I went to the Opti world Championships in Lake Garda, my team mates and I used to tell people that we came from Antarctica. This is because on our sail numbers we have the letters ANT which represents Antigua. People would come up to us asking questions like ‘Is the water cold in Antarctica? And things like ‘is it windy?’
What has Optimist sailing taught you that you use in everyday life?
Opti sailing has taught to how to train, it has given me a formula to success that I know works and I will hopefully apply in the future. It’s showed me that if you work hard you will succeed.
The issue of ocean pollution is gaining more exposure. What are your thoughts and experiences of it?
The ocean is our training grounds. We are able to make a living off of the ocean, and with all of the pollution it makes it very unhealthy for us. We only have one ocean and we must keep it clean. This sharp increase in plastic entering our waters harms not only marine life but also humanity. Plastic kills fish, birds, marine mammals and sea turtles, destroys habitats and even affects animals' mating rituals, which can have devastating consequences and can wipe out entire species
Thank you Rocco! We will be interviewing another sailor soon so look out for our next article."
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