Ella Fleri Soler - photo by Kurt Arrigo
Ella Fleri Soler ended 2008 and her Oppie sailing years on top by winning the Euromed International Championship in December. Ella now goes on to sailing a Laser 4.7 - a new challenge. The article below is taken from The Sunday Times of Malta.
Surprise is the most sensational factor in sport with victory won or lost faster than wind changes its course or even for the night to change into dawn.
Only a few weeks ago, I paid tribute to a young sailor who won the 2008 National Dinghy Championships, making it a back-to-back victory for he had also won the 2007 nationals.
The success in the Dinghy Championships, held only a few days before the staging of the 2008 Euromed Championships, was a psychological boost for 14-year-old Thomas Zammit Tabona who, having won the 2006 and 2007 editions of the Euromed, now had the chance to make it three wins in a row at international level.
Yet, every event has its story, and while foreign favourites, hailing from Russia, Great Britain, Italy and Northern Ireland, were in good number with the local 'no.1' being Zammit Tabona, the four-day championships turned out to be a striking and breathtaking triumph for 15-year-old Ella Fleri Soler (18 pts).
She clinched victory by a mere point at the expense of Maxim Nikolaev of Russia. Third place went to Alexander Shelting, another Russian, with 21 points with Zammit Tabona placing fourth with 29 points.
Hailing from a 'nautical oriented' family, daughter of the renowned windsurfer Jean Paul Fleri Soler, it was no surprise that Ella, not even 10-years-old, took up sailing joining the Malta Young Sailors Club (MYSC) where the Optimist dinghy has been her racing boat for the past five years.
"The first time I went sailing was with my dad and younger brother Edward. I was scared to death and never thought I'd continue. But by the summer I had started my beginners' course at the MYSC and I took off from then. Within a year-and-a-half I was promoted to the national team," Ella narrated.
In 2004, a few months after starting sailing, Ella had a taste of competitive racing - the Ramla Bay Regatta - which was definitely a good first experience for in five years of sailing she competed in many national local events as well as numerous overseas international events.
Amongst the competitions Ella has attended, there are three editions of the Island Games; in Crete (2005), Sicily (2006), where she also won two silver medals, and Corsica (2007).
Fleri Soler also raced in the Monaco GSSE 2007, where she achieved a silver medal, the Mediterranean Cup in Reggio Calabria in 2007 and 2008 where last year she finished eighth out of 50 sailors. She also sailed in the British National Championships in Wales (2008).
Before her latest triumph in the Euromeds, Ella took part in three previous editions of the event - in 2004 where she was first in the Optimist girl cadet class, in 2006, and 2007 where she was first in the Optimist girls class again.
Ella is very sad to be leaving the Optimist sailing team this year, but certainly it does not bring an end to her sailing career. She intends to start training on the Laser 4.7 - a larger boat for sailors between the ages of 16 and 18.
"I will definitely be back at the Euromeds next year to compete in the Laser class," promised Ella.
An international jury, made up of Lorenz Walch (Germany), Manuel Santos e Silva (Portugal) and under the chairmanship of Peter Valentino, ran the regatta. The jury was assisted by Jovin Rausi and Godwin Zammit. The Euromeds, staged in Mellieha Bay over a 4km course, was organised by the Malta Young Sailors Club in partnership with the Kunsill Malti ghall-iSport under the auspices of the Malta Sailing Federation.
Girls Open Class: 1. Ella Fleri Soler, 2. Abigail Fenech, 3. Svetlana Chekhova (Russia).
Laser 4.7 Class: 1. Anatoly Korshikov (Russia), 2. Alessandro Saladino (Italy), 3. Viatchesa Sheludyakov (Russia).
Laser Standard: 1. Zak Borg, 2. Benji Borg, 3. Jan Rossi.
Juniors Optimist Class: 1. Justin Busuttil, 2. Mikiel Abela, 3. Rose Banham (GB).
Cadet Class: 1. Ugo Pace (Italy), 2. Thomas Bonello Ghio, 3. Pavel Rasskazov (Russia).
2000 Lisa Tait (Ireland); 2001 Ton Thorn (Sweden); 2002 Matthew Fleri Soler (Malta); 2003 Valentino Valacchi (Italy); 2004 Henrik Grim (Sweden); 2005 Okan Arin (Turkey); 2006 Thomas Zammit Tabona (Malta); 2007 Thomas Zammit Tabona (Malta); 2008 Ella Fleri Soler (Malta).