Olympic windsurfer Federico Esposito to join the EuroTour at Mondello’s Water Festival  

Join us as we catch up with Federico Esposito, a medal-decorated figure in the world of water sports, ahead of the much-anticipated Water Festival in the Gulf of Mondello, Sicily, happening May 3-5. Let’s explore together Federico’s illustrious journey from a windsurfing prodigy to a SUP champion and revered coach. Federico shares insights from his early days, experiences at the Olympic Games, and his transition into coaching, all while gearing up for the Euro Tour prize competition.

Ciao, Federico! You were born at the seaside in Piombino, Italy, starting with watersports at just 10 years old, and quickly moving into your first race. Could you tell us about your early sailing experiences and training as a child?

Hello everyone! My childhood was filled with salty moments. I spent most of my days having fun and training on the water, and I’m glad I had such a great opportunity. Luckily, I was talented and always liked to work hard. This combination allowed me to quickly climb the results ladder, and by the age of 15, I had won the world championship in the windsurfing discipline. I was also interested in other sports such as surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and anything related to a board. In general, I was a kid that loved to be in the sports environment.

Fast forward to 2012: you represented Italy at the London Olympic Games in windsurfing. What was it like to live this incredible dream?

The Olympic Games is “The dream come true.” Since the very beginning of my career, I had aimed for this unique event held only once every four years. It is something unique, and the day I qualified for the Olympic Games, I remember I had goosebumps and my stomach was in knots. I was so excited that I didn’t sleep properly for three days! The Olympic Village is like Disneyland for athletes; you meet people from all over the world and from all kinds of sports. I have lots of good memories from that period and had the chance to meet great athletes like Usain Bolt, Kobe Bryant, Ryan Giggs, Rafael Nadal, and many other inspirational champions.

You’re now a high-level coach in various watersports. What are you most proud of in your coaching career?

I founded a windsurfing school when I was 18. Teaching was always something I loved and it helped me with the transition from athlete to coach in 2015 – when I retired from international competition to start a new chapter of my life as a professional coach. I debuted as the national coach of Seychelles at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In 2017, I signed on as the coach of the Spanish windsurfing national team, and I’ve followed that project until the Tokyo 2021 Games. Finally, I had the unique opportunity to be part of one of the best sailing federations – that of the Netherlands. Right now, I’m the national coach of the NED team and we just got the ticket for the next Olympic Games that will take place this year in Paris. Since 2022, I have also been the coach of the Italian SUP national team. Both federations gave me the opportunity to express myself as a coach, and the athletes repaid me with incredible results. Last but not least, the world titles achieved at the SUP World Championship in France and the bronze medal at the World Championship in Lanzarote in the windsurfing discipline.

Can you recall your first time standing on a SUP? When and where was it?

Of course, I remember my first time! It was back in 2010 when I was preparing for the London Olympics. My sparring partners and I were training in New Zealand and saw some people paddling. This sport was already quite famous there, and we decided to give it a try. It was quick to learn, and two weeks later, we were competing in our first race in Auckland, the “summer beach series.” When I went back to Italy, I shelved the idea of continuing because I had to focus on the Olympic Games, until one day in 2014 when an Italian rider, Paolo Marconi, invited me to train with him on a SUP race board. Since then, the bond with the paddle has never been broken.

How was your journey from a ‘beginner’ SUP paddler to champion?

At the beginning, it was just an alternative way to train. It was the perfect alternative to indoor rowing as it was a suitable alternative and good cross-training for my main sport. As I gradually improved, I decided to try participating in races, and surprisingly, I found out that I was at the top of the Italian rankings. Subsequently, the first sponsors arrived, and I launched myself into international competitions, debuting with an excellent third place at the Eurotour held in Crete, Agios Nikolaos. I’m still continuing to compete whenever my work does not overlap with the dates of SUP competitions.

What are your favorite medals in SUP?

I won some medals, but the most favorite was the Italian championship, and the way I achieved it was truly extraordinary. I was at Lake Garda for the windsurfing world championship, managed to deliver the logistics of the equipment to my athletes, jumped in the car, and drove until 4 am. I slept only 4 hours and then went to the beach in Rome where the Italian SUP championship took place. I had no expectations of winning, but I really wanted to compete and prove to myself that I could still be a good athlete. Surprisingly, I won the technical race and the long distance. I was full of joy, and the best part was being able to share this victory with my family, especially my son Tommaso, who was only 7 months old.

Do you have a favorite brand for SUP boards and paddles? What are you using this year?

I believe that the perfect board does not exist; it is much more important to know your board and be able to exploit its potential 100%. Nonetheless, at the moment, Starboard and NSP have a monopoly on sales. They are certainly the two reference brands on the market, and both boards work very well in all conditions. At the moment, I’m using a Starboard Allstar 14’x20.5″; I try to use it in all conditions, but when the sea condition becomes critical, I use the NSP Carolina 14’x22″. Regarding the paddle, I’m still using my QB trifecta 86 in very flat conditions, and then QB UV 82 when the sea starts to get bumpy.

What’s your goal for the Mondello Race in Sicily this May? Both racing and coaching?

Mondello is one of the best places on my list; the opportunity to race in such a postcard view is unique. So, the first goal will be to enjoy every single moment spent on the water. Then, I would like to give my best and see if the winter training is paying off. Meanwhile, I cannot ignore my position as National coach and will surely use this occasion to fulfill my role with the team and help them as much as I can.

With a beautiful family and two amazing sons, how does a typical day unfold for you? How do you balance training, work, and family time?

Thank you for the compliment; my family is amazing and supports me in every decision I make. My work often requires me to spend a lot of time away from home, but whenever I can bring my family with me, I can maintain almost a normal routine. Wake up at 7 am, prepare milk for my 2 kids (Tommaso and Lorenzo), my wife Giulia gets them ready to go out, and they drop me at the sailing club after breakfast. I conduct the first training session with the team, and as soon as I finish, I dedicate an hour to SUP training while the athletes rest. Lunch with the family, then back on the water for the second training session with the team. After a brief debriefing, I join the family at the park to play with the children. Dinner is at 7:30 pm, followed by playtime, and then we put the kids to bed. End of the day. When I’m at home, the routine is much simpler because I don’t have to work and can dedicate almost all my time to my family. But generally, whenever possible, I try to dedicate 1h 30 to my private trainings. If I have to choose due to time constraints, the family always wins!

What are your expectations for the race conditions at Mondello? What should athletes prepare for?

Mondello is a very complete place, usually quite flat, but if a storm comes, be prepared for big waves and strong winds. I’ve had the opportunity to train and race there many times, and it always offers surprises.

Do you have any recommendations for athletes on where and how to spend a few more days before or after the race, in the region?

Sicily is beautiful all around. There are iconic places like the Cathedral of Palermo, the Temples of Agrigento, the Roman Theater of Taormina, or Mount Etna. If you have only a few days, my advice is to visit Palermo city and “La Rocca di Cefalù” in Cefalù city, which is very nearby.

For more information:

TotalSUP event page

Event website



Photos by the courtesy of: Water Experience

About the Author

Dóra Hegedűs

Dora is a female grandmaster SUP racer who joined the world of paddling in 2019 and quickly developed an irrepressible passion for the sport. Originally from Hungary, Dora now resides in Aarhus, Denmark, and despite her affinity for flat waters, she loves to participate in international races and is dedicated to making SUP racing an inclusive sport for women over 50 - a vibrant age where, as Dora believes, life truly begins to sparkle with fun and excitement. Fluent in Hungarian, English, Italian, French, and (soon) Danish, she is a polyglot. In her professional life, Dora is a business coach and therapist.