BBS Sailing | A unique experience, full of emotions

24 October 2022

Earlier this year, an initiative as exciting as it is adventurous got underway: the BBS Sailing Experience. A team composed of Faculty, Alumni and Friends of the School who are passionate about sailing came together to demonstrate that there are many similarities between this discipline and management.

On Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2, the 8th edition of the BBS Sailing Experience came to a close in the beautiful setting of Punta Ala with the most exciting part of the whole experience: two days of intense racing. But let’s take a step back. This edition was born and grew as a journey in which the encounter with the sea was only the culmination of a series of truly unforgettable moments. Organized in collaboration with the BBS Alumni Association and under the guidance of Professor Andrea Lipparini, the BBS Sailing Experience is an event that has been able to renew itself and convey important values, thanks to a program full of excitement, creativity and zest. Particularly enthralling were the meetings with great solo sailors such as Andrea Mura, Giancarlo Pedote and the great captain of the Amerigo Vespucci, Gianfranco Bacchi

No surprise, then, that the whole team arrived at the long-awaited weekend truly energized, ready to compete before the Punta Ala Marina and an FIV [Italian sailing federation] race committee assisted by Gianfranco Cardamone (EMBA Alumnus, Head of EMEA Southeast-Italian country manager at NXP Semiconductors). The first morning of the regatta opened with a sky that, with a wonderful rainbow, seemed to want to welcome the sailors, the 50 managers who shared a common path in Bologna Business School, at different stages and times in their lives. Upon registration, the team spirit was immediately reinforced by the handing over of the BBS Sailing Experience uniform, which brought the enthusiasm of the racers to the highest level. A short but intense brief with Paolo Lia, (MBA Alumnus, Hacqua2_O sailing yacht holiday) Simona Bonini (EMBA Alumna and General Counsel at Bonfiglioli S.p.a), who provided the team with detailed instructions, including the appropriate basics of sailing, and then everyone took to the water. 

The first round is always a challenge. The managers involved know this well: it is like a startup with a motivated staff, but still yet to be discovered and tested. Crew and shipowner alike are therefore in the process of getting to know each other, but the spirit is so high and the atmosphere so serene and joyful that everything seems very simple and natural, the fellowship is almost immediate. The crews and the boats conquer the race course and, after some warming up in the maneuvers, the race committee gives the first signal: 5 minutes to go! Tempers become hot, spirits flare, pressure rises. Then the 4-minute signal, the 2-minute to start, and finally the last minute. At the starting line it almost seems as if one can hear each other’s thoughts, brains at work: it is as if one senses that everyone is mentally organizing themselves to give their best. At times like these, the parallels between the world of business and the world of sailing appear even clearer and more apparent: there is a cohesion possible between people that goes beyond a working understanding, it is nourished by presence and needs no words. This cohesion is born in close-knit teams and should be sought in every context because it is truly invaluable.

Off they go! The wind in the first round is light, skipping, there is a slight breeze. At the end of the first round, it is back for a sandwich and a boat change, getting to know a new skipper and preparing to embark on a new craft. But the crew is now attuned and not even afraid of the wind, which turns from a breeze to a stiff one, gusting up to 25 knots. Boats lurch, crews position themselves with their legs out to balance the conditions created by the wind and to gain the first positions. Excitement is at an all-time high.

At the end of these first two regatta races, the program is still packed. Prof. Lipparini and Gianfranco Di Pietro‘s speeches involve and excite to the point that, despite the adrenaline of the day, the managers listen in perfect silence. Aperitif and dinner, then everyone goes to sleep, to be rested and ready to face the second day of racing. Day two begins in sunshine and a light breeze, with all crews on the water to face the final challenge immediately after a brief presentation of the day’s program. 

This final day is perhaps more competitive than the first one and ends with the awards ceremony and a buffet for the final farewell. Farewells are exchanged, on the splendid terrace of the Punta Ala Yacht Club, in the hope of seeing each other not only at the next edition, but also “in international waters” for future and ambitious challenges. Indeed, a new journey starts from here, about which we will tell in the coming months, and which sees the whole team even more excited to thank one by one those who made this extraordinary experience possible. 

Many thanks to Andrea Lipparini and Gianfranco Cardamone, Paolo Lia, Alberto Laghi, Mirko Montecchi, Franco Valentini, Anna Pia Chiarandini and Mattia Musarò without whom none of this would have been possible!


Simona Bonini 

Alumna of the Executive MBA of BBS | Group General Counsel at Bonfiglioli S.p.A.


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