I was training to be an accountant, but I was unfulfilled so I quit. I felt a call from nature that led to me making an expedition across Alaska on foot. After that I decided to row solo across the Atlantic ocean.
My first two solo rowing attempts were failures. I set off from Genoa, Italy, with the plan to row 11,000km to Brazil. The first attempt lasted six hours before I had to turn around because of the wind. The second attempt went a little better, but after 23 days I got shipwrecked off Formentera (an island in the Balearics).
It was November and I was the only man on this tiny island. The first person who helped me said, 'You’re the first Italian in Formentera in winter, you need to come earlier in the season.' It was a bad shipwreck and I was lucky to survive and return home with no injuries.
Third Time's a Charm
I've found the most dangerous moments on the water are when you're facing another human being. Sounds ridiculous but it’s true. It’s often not the big wave that will kill you, it’s the moment you come across humans on big boats carrying heavy loads. I’ve had near misses in both the Pacific and the Atlantic.
It’s especially dangerous while sleeping at night because a big boat might not see my tiny boat in the middle of the ocean. When you do see the navigation light of a large ship coming over the horizon you have 10 to 15 minutes to evacuate the area. In sailing terms that's not long. You have to commit yourself to a direction and hope they aren’t about to turn towards you. It’s a very scary moment.
Despite terrifying encounters like that, I was still committed to the challenge. A year later I set off for the third time with a new boat and I rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 227 days.