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    Gliding in beauty, a voyage in the Cabras pond with the Oristano Nautical Club

    Although busy with fishing, the gray heron retains the solemnity of the border sentinel. Graceful, elegant and austere, he observes the canoe passing its position on the rock and entering the lagoon. The close passage does not bother him. Perhaps he internalized the figure of the strange centaur, his equal height, translating them into an absence of danger, into noble disinterest. The morning is terse and the blue sky envelops the frame of reeds and rushes like a cloth, in contrast with the murky water of the pond.

    With clumsy paddle strokes we plod along, chasing the straight trails of Bonaria and Cecilia, our guides in the journey across the Cabras pond. The Oristano Nautical Club is housed in a concrete building located in Lazio street, the former purifier overlooking the banks of the Riu Tanui. After the reception, on the ground floor, the shed for canoes and kayaks opens up. Upstairs are the changing rooms and the large gym, reduced in machinery due to the pandemic (which forced many athletes to carry the paddling simulators at home) and crossed by the tapes suggest social distancing.

    Some athletes trained at dawn and are now back, sliding on the surface of the canal, approaching the pier and clinging up with a swift movement as they leave the cockpit. In the widest point of their structure, the kayaks used for competitions barely wrap the hips. Even standing in the water alone is the result of great strength and balance.

    Since 1970 the club has collected numerous national and international awards, in all categories and ages of competition. Only in the Italian speed championships held in Milan last few weeks, the Oristano team collected 13 medals, 3 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronzes. An extraordinary success. The organizational and environmental resources make the club an ideal place for top-level training sessions. Among the athletes who train on the Riu Tanui there is also Manfredi Rizza, Olympian of the Italian canoe kayak team and already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics: "I often come here to train, the club and the pond are perfect for the workout. I'm spending a few days of vacation here in Sardinia, but I certainly can't sit idly. So every morning I come here, and Stefano Loddo coaches me in this beautiful environment. Unfortunately, the pandemic made us miss the appointment with the Olympics. But we keep training as if the games were next week”.

    “The Riu Tanui and the Cabras pond, but also the Riu Mare Foghe in Riola Sardo, guarantee optimal conditions for training sessions. Especially at dawn, when the wind is absent or irrelevant. A rare natural paradise”, explains Loddo, whom the club has raised and prepared for a great career as a competitor and coach. From 2010 to 2016 he has been coach of the Canottieri Ticino Pavia. "We educate our students in sporting and environmental disciplines, not only paying great attention not to damage the nature that hosts us, but participating in all the initiatives that take care of the territory", says Andrea Lilliu, coach of the Oristano nautical club.

    During the clean-up of the small port of Torregrande, an event with which the CEAS Oristano launched the summer campaign “Let's sail a clean sea”, that we met Cecilia Tola, engaged with other members of the club in the clean-up of breakwaters and docks.

    Now we follow her and Bonaria Cera in the coastal navigation of the pond. From the vegetation rise the first row of houses of Cabras, and the church of Santa Maria Vergine Assunta, a magnificent starting point, in a September not threatened by Covid, for the centuries-old Corsa degli Scalzi. The sun and temperature rise mercilessly, while the gulls fly over the pond, now rippled by a light breeze. In the distance, the pink figures of flamingos, like a mirage.

    Further away the “shepherd's house”, used by paddlers for stops during long crossings. The kayak team parades at a frenzied pace, the coach pushes the caravan for the last mile, and not even the distance is able to decrease the perception of speed. Since 2014 Cecilia and Bonaria have participated in the master championships, winning various medals in the master category with their companions Laura, Anna and Rita. “It is a magnificent sport that can be practiced at a competitive level even by those who, like us, started late in life. But technical advice and support are initially necessary. Navigating these waters requires compliance with some rules. We live in harmony with nature, and with the fishermen who find their primary asset here”, explains Cecilia during a stop in the middle of the pond. "Going out at dawn or dusk and walking through these spaces is priceless, it means rediscovering your body and the surrounding nature. We learned to recognize the birds, and to dodge the mullets that jumping can give you some good slaps, or slip into the cockpit ".

    We find the gray heron where we had left it. We would like to snap a close-up, but our awkward maneuvers annoy him. Better to bow towards the dock before it flies away and gives up its fundamental role of guarding the Cabras pond.

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