North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Riccardo de Felice


After Two International Regatta Wins on Lake Garda

📸 Fraglia Vela Riva/Zerogradinord

Making a name for himself in the fiercely competitive Optimist fleet is 14-year-old British sailor Santiago Sesto-Cosby. Having sailed the Optimist for an astounding 10 years, we were eager to find out about his journey and where he is heading next.

Sesto-Cosby started sailing at Salterns Sailing Club in Lymington on the south coast of England. He then joined the Royal Lymington Yacht Club before being part of the regional squad and ultimately being selected to train at a National level; a commitment that set him up well as he now competes internationally and races all over the world.

The young sailor recently made waves on Lake Garda after winning the Ora Cup against 240 boats earlier this month. He topped off his achievements most recently after becoming the first-ever British sailor to win the Country Cup, also on Lake Garda, racing against countries including Denmark, France, and Germany.

It is clear Sesto-Cosby has some in-depth knowledge of Garda as a sailing venue, so we asked him to share his insights. “During the Ora Cup, I learned alot about the fleet, the wind, and the conditions. We often launched early so got to know the conditions prior to the race start. It was different from when I’ve sailed there before as there seemed to be less wind, but it arrived earlier. Sailing with a north wind on Garda is tricky because it is shiftier which means big gusts to look out for!’’

Getting caught up on the line can ruin the whole race before it has even begun. Sesto-Cosby balances picking the bias side of the line whilst avoiding starting amongst the big bunches. He explains, “Generally, only one or two boats starting in a bunch will actually get a good start and the rest will be buried. Once I’ve got my position, I accelerate a few seconds earlier than most and don’t start too close to the pin to allow myself room to tack off. Once you have done that and crossed a few boats, you are out in front and in the lead. From there, you can fight with those closest to you rather than battling it out with everyone and risking dropping back in the fleet as a result.’’

Working with Riccardo de Felice from North Sails Italy, Sesto-Cosby uses the new-design 2021 prototype North sail which was designed for racing on Garda. “I recently transitioned after being offered to test it out in Valencia where I became very attached to it. I found it perfect – more powerful than my previous sail, but the pinching modes of sailing remained. 10-15 knots of breeze is the perfect condition for me with this sail.’’

The size of the Optimist fleet can be daunting for younger sailors who are new to sailing. Sesto-Cosby’s advice is to prioritize boat speed and handling during the early stages of racing. “Tactics and fleet knowledge develop with time; after a few years of racing,’’ he says. “I regret not focusing more on my boat handling (tacking, general speed) when I was younger, because the knowledge of strategy and tactics comes with experience when you get older.’’

The future looks bright for Sesto-Cosby who hopes to continue his winning streak at the European Championship next October. When it comes to moving on from the Optimist, he is looking to partner with a Swiss sailor in the 29er whilst doing some Optimist coaching on the side. We look forward to watching the progress of this young, rising star.

📸 Valeria Sesto
📸 Fraglia Vela Riva/Zerogradinord
📸 Fraglia Vela Riva/Zerogradinord

Story Contributors

Sesto-Cosby Makes Waves in the Optimist Fleet headshot
Riccardo de Felice

Carasco, Italy

Riccardo de Felice (ITA) has joined the North Sails One Design Class Expert team. With sailing roots and a background in coaching one design sailors at an international level, Riccardo’s interests lie in enhancing boat performance and helping athletes to be...

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