The past, present and future of Greek sailing are coming together off the capital’s southern coast on Saturday, October 15, for the country’s first Sailing Marathon, an event that will see the participation of veterans, Olympians, World and European champions and dozens of youngsters representing the next generation of the sport. Organizers are hoping for a successful event that will become a fixture on the annual sports calendar and eventually attract sailors from around the world.
The race will start at 12.50 p.m. just outside Mikrolimano Bay in Piraeus and will cover 14 nautical miles in total near the coast so that spectators can watch the action. It is expected to attract dozens of athletes, among whom is 2004 Olympics gold medallist Emilia Tsoulfa, who will be returning to racing after a 12-year hiatus. The mother of three will be teaming up with her brother Thodoris Tsoulfas, himself an open-sea and triangle sailing champion, and each of the siblings will be bringing along one of their children.
“Beyond its interest as a competition, this event is also very symbolic,” says Tsoulfa. “Generations of Greek sailing will be at the starting line to claim a distinction in nothing but good sportsmanship. It will be wonderful to be in the same race as those who made us want to get involved in the sport as well as youngsters who are just getting started.”
Most of the Greek sailors who participated in the Rio Olympics this summer will be there as well. Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis have already expressed their unreserved support for the event, while RS:X windsurfing Olympian Byron Kokkalanis will be racing a boat for the first time, together with Angeliki Skarlatou – herself a participant in four Games. Giannis Mitakis will be sailing a Finn and Michalis Pateniotis, who raced in Rio with Sofia Bekatorou, will join Dionysis Dimou in a 49er. Greece’s first Sailing Marathon will also include the participation of World Tornado champions Costas Trigonis and Iordanis Paschalidis, as well as many others, including Paralympic athletes.
The idea for the event belongs to the coach of Mantis and Kagialis, Gerasimos Orologas, award-winning photojournalist Nikos Alevromytis and yachtsman Constantinos Tsigaras, while it is organized by the Piraeus Sailing Club.
“This is the first time such an even will be held and naturally it includes the participation of the Piraeus Sailing Club, one of Greece’s oldest, which also boasts eight Olympians in its ranks,” says club president Yiannis Papadimitriou. “When the Sailing Marathon team told us of their idea, we immediately agreed to support it.”