Sara Nazzari is a student in the Master's Degree Programme in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities. Sara and her sister Claudia are Italian Champions in Stand-up Rowing (Italian Voga in Piedi or V.I.P.) and this year they were the youngest team to participate in the Women’s twin-oared mascarete regatta during the Historical Regatta in Venice on Sunday, 4 September 2022.
“I will participate in the Regatta in the boat called ‘mascareta bianca’ with my sister Claudia, who has just finished high school and hopes to study Economics at Ca’ Foscari,” Sara told us before the event. “Claudia and I are the Italian Champions in Stand-up Rowing. We will have the honour of participating in the Regatta as the youngest team. This racing season has been challenging and we’ve achieved a lot. Last year we missed qualifying for the Regatta by 3 seconds. We’re proud to have tried again and to have qualified for this year.”
We asked Sara to tell us about her experience in the world of rowing.
How did you start rowing?
Our family lives in Mestre and even though our parents loved rowing, my sister and I had never tried it. When I was 12, one of my classmates introduced me to this sport. Claudia was almost 8 years old at the time. We both started rowing, but because of our age gap, we couldn’t row together. After the pandemic, Claudia needed a partner, so we formed a team. Earlier this year we won the Italian Championship in Pisa, came in third place at the Regata di Pellestrina, and on 25 September we will participate in another national championship.
What does participating in the Regatta mean to you?
I feel a sense of personal and professional satisfaction, because we’ve managed to achieve this goal by investing a lot of energy and effort. Passing the selection means we’ve improved our performance. Rowing is a strenuous sport. While other sports have been “adapted” to suit the female body, in rowing the only difference is that we have lighter boats. But the fact that it is challenging shouldn’t stop us from doing it.
Demands for women and men to be treated equally are being made in the world of sports, too. Just consider that until two years ago, in the Historical Regatta female winners obtained a prize that was inferior to the one that male winners received. At this time there are countries around the world in which women are actually losing their rights, so participating in this event is an indication of our freedom to do sports, in addition to devoting time to our personal and professional lives.
Given that women are a minority in rowing, I am grateful that I can promote this sport and its tradition. We need to work together to reach ever-increasing gender equality in sports.
What are the prospects for rowing among the younger generations?
Venetian rowing is a traditional sport. It doesn’t have its own federation yet, and it doesn’t have any big sponsors. It is a “community” sport — it offers opportunities for members of the community to get together and spend their summer evenings eating and chatting together, sitting in their boats in the lagoon. Another traditional event is the “Disnar”, a dinner held before the Regatta to celebrate the people who have qualified to participate in it. Rowing is also deeply rooted in artisanship, and in particular in woodworking.
In recent years the trend in rowing seems to show that fewer young girls are taking up this sport. Our objective is to make this sport open to everyone from a young age. This is why we are trying to make it as easy as possible for children to get to know this sport and to develop not only physical skills, but also cultural knowledge.
What experience do you have in other rowing sports?
Thanks to my sports club I’ve been able to try a lot of different sports, such as sailing, lug sailing, and rowing. Over the years, Claudia and I have participated in many competitions and obtained very positive results. Since 2019 we’ve participated in the annual International Universities Rowing Race at Ca’ Foscari, as steerers and rowers.
How do you balance sport with your studies?
I train every morning around 7:30. I also work and study full time. You need to be organised and to set yourself realistic goals, making sure you try to reach them every day. Over the years I’ve realised that it is possible to find a balance while doing sport, studying, working, and socialising, even though maintaining this balance is difficult. Managing all of this has helped me develop a sense of self-confidence.
Why should we do sports at university?
For me personally, doing sport is fundamental in order to find and keep a healthy psychological and physical balance. Sport helps me feel good. Over the years I’ve learnt that focussing on only one thing at a time can be detrimental. This is why I study, but I also work and train. I believe we should develop as people, in ways that we can’t do if we only focus on passing university exams. If we only focus on studying (or only on sports, or only on working), we might lose sight of other perspectives.
I hope that my experience can send a positive message to my fellow students. Even though it can be hard, it is not impossible to enjoy your time at university and also be involved in other activities. It can actually be very satisfying.
Maybe studying in Venice is just what you need to discover the world of rowing!
Discover rowing at Ca’ Foscari!
Ca’ Foscari offers courses in Venetian rowing, kayaking and SUP, dragon boat, rowing and the galleon for beginners and more experienced athletes.