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Meet Sailing Instructor Valerio Marra

Despite holding a PhD in fluid machines and energy systems engineering, as well as an MSc in nuclear engineering, specializing in numerical methods for computational fluid dynamics, I love to break down sailing concepts to their simplest form. Thus I teach at any level to match your willingness to learn.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a performance sailor. The faster, the better because I learned the hard way what happens when your sails and foils no longer generate lift. I also shamelessly ask a lot of questions. The beauty of sailing is that you can learn new tricks from both beginner and advanced sailors alike.

Keelboats -or- Catamarans?

Keelboats

Local Sailing -or- Coastal/Charter Vacations -or- Deep Blue?

Local Sailing

What’s your “Style” of sailing?

Performance

What got you into sailing?

I hopped on a sailboat almost by accident. It happened during a networking event for Italian professionals living abroad, and I reside in the suburbs of Boston, MA. The very next day, I eagerly signed up for a 101 course, and two years later, I had obtained all the certifications required to become an instructor. I spent every day of the week at the dock, honing my skills. I practiced crew overboard drills so many times that people jokingly thought I was responsible for cleaning the Boston Harbor.

What does sailing do (or has done) for you?

When I’m sailing, both internal and external chatter cease. It becomes a meditative experience where all your senses are heightened. You have no power on the wind and the sea, so it is crucial to remain focused on adjusting your sails.

Most memorable sailing experience?

I took my RYA ICC in Annapolis, MD. As part of the certification process, I had to sail a 50-foot catamaran into the narrow Ego Valley waterway, execute a spin maneuver, and safely navigate out. Fortunately, there were no damages or injuries. Additionally, sailing in Italy, my country of origin, is always a special experience.

What are a couple of your favorite sailing spots?

Key Largo, FL and the Boston Harbor.

What’s your favorite part about teaching sailors?

If you can’t explain it in simple terms, then you don’t understand it yourself. Teaching sailing not only makes you a better sailor but also provides undeniable proof of your own understanding. Additionally, witnessing the joy and sense of pride in a student’s eyes when they successfully nail a drill is an incredibly rewarding moment.

What advice would you give a new student about sailing?  An experienced sailor?

I would advise both sailors to never stop asking questions, consistently practice drills, and always respect the sea.

What is a random fact about yourself?

I somewhat ‘cheated’ my way into learning to sail so quickly. As a nuclear engineer specializing in computational fluid dynamics, I had a significant advantage. Maybe that’s not cheating – I guess the PhD was the required diligence – slightly overkill perhaps!

What’s on your sailing ‘bucket list’?

An extended cruise in the Mediterranean with my wife and two boys.

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Learn more about Valerio Marra ›

My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
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