Boating in a Portrait | Agostino Sommariva: “I discovered sailing thanks to my father’s passion for the sea. Now I am managing a business that is over 100 years old”

Agostino Sommariva has a full list of wins and titles earned while sailing. Today he makes extra virgin olive oil, continuing his family’s traditional business.

Agostino Sommariva, born in 1966 in Genova, has always lived in Albenga and is a well-known sailor. With the Fd, he won the Italian title in 1987 and in 1991 and was third in the European Cup in 1986, second in the Olympics selection in 1988, and was therefore present at the Seoul Olympics as a reserve.

Fourth in the World Cup in 1990, fifth at the Pre-Olympics in Barcelona in 1991 and second in the Olympic selection in 1992. He then moved on to the Soling class, as part of the crew with Favini and afterwards with Celon, in 1993 he won the Mediterranean Cup and was sixth at the European Cup. And then he was second in the Olympic selection in 1996 and won the Italian title in 1997. He then came second again in the Olympic selection of 2000.

He moved to the Star class, as part of the crew with Chieffi, and he won the Italian title in 2003. He participated in the European and World Cups, finishing second for the selections of the 2004 Olympics. In the meantime, he also competed on open water vessels and won the World Cup in 1995 and 1996 Quarter Ton on “Per Elisa” in German seas. He also won the Giro d’Italia a vela in 1996 and 1997. Today he is the owner, together with his family, of an agrifood business making oil, oil marinated preserves, pesto and sauces in Albenga.

Agostino Sommariva how did you discover sailing?

Thanks to my father’s love for the sea, I began doing sailing school at the Circolo Nautico di Alassio with the Optimist class.

Your career and life are studded with victories and great achievements. What kind of sailor are you now? Do you still compete professionally?

No, I don’t compete professionally any more, but sailing still makes me happy because, when work allows, I am able to enjoy the Mediterranean sea cruising on a sail boat.

What advice would you give to a young person interested in sailing?

It is a marvellous sport, and allows you to be in close contact with nature, and being able to have a professional career allows you to travel and see the world.

The advice I feel I need to give is to stay in this sport for as long as it is fun. It is harder to learn how to lose than to learn how to win.

Once you set foot on the ground, you began making and selling extra virgin olive oil, continuing your family tradition. Do you have more satisfaction from sailing or making oil?

They are two completely different worlds. The success that sailing gave me in my youth is difficult to repeat for obvious reasons.

The work, however, done with passion, allows you to have even greater passion also because it is tied to what my family has done for generations and projects me into the future through the addition of my children to the business. Consequently, I will certainly be satisfied to see a hundred-year old business continue to thrive.


Giuseppe Orrù

Photos by Claudio Colombo

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