A truly great week back in Italy. Lots of planning and work on the boat coupled with a number of meetings with potential sponsors and suppliers and two days of promotion at an international rowing event hosted by Canottieri Gavirate on Lake Varese.


I arrive in Italy with a ridiculous “to do list”, this is pretty common for me – I already know that by the end of the week I’ll be very disappointed for only having achieved 20% of the list and having added 50% more entries to the list.

The first few days progress well and I work on refitting the main hatch, give the whole boat a good clean, repaint the cabins, refit the bilge pump, test a new rowing seat and finally make a decision on the rowing position. Sogno Atlantico is really taking shape and she’ll soon be ready to brave the waves of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Both my dad and my brother are amazing and find the time between fixing boats and engines and talking with clients to provide support and advice. A special thanks to Sebastiano for taking every opportunity to mock me and remind me that I am not as experienced as most of them and I should probably go back to laptops and PowerPoint slides! He’s right but I’m keen to prove him wrong. Nevertheless I take on board every single piece of advice!

I’m starting to get a feel for the boat and I’m confident that I’ll be able to have it ready well before the start of the race. The boatyard has not changed over the years: everyone wants to help and people crowd around the boat as soon as I start tackling a new job…from ten people you get twenty different opinions and the whole thing descends into a shouting match. I try to keep quite, keep the work moving and find a middle ground. God I miss my country!

On the Tuesday I get a break from the boat to attend a press conference at the Australian Institute of sport in Gavirate – Truly amazing facility and I’m really thankful to Luca Broggini for the guided tour. It’s really great to talk about my challenge in a town where I learnt to row over 20 years ago and where I still have a lot of friends. I would like to thank President Pomati and the whole of Canottieri Gavirate for supporting my challenge. Having the support of a club that over the years has created so many national and international rowing champions is a true honour.


After the press conference it’s back to the boat – I’m starting to feel very tired as the days are very long: trying to keep up with preparing presentations and talking to clients during the day and then work on the boat and the campaign during the evenings and nights: up at 7 am and in bed at 3-4am. Getting to the start of the race is definitely a challenge! Towards the end of the week I have meetings with I&G to plan how to fit the cabin and discuss materials and setups and a meeting with Sironi Batterie to discuss batteries and solar panels. The latter is particularly challenging and the gaps in my knowledge are evident at times. Luckily Mr Sironi is very patient and takes the time to outline the logic behind each suggestion. In the end we agree on a strategy and on a followup meeting after I’ve sourced the solar panels. The meeting is followed by the great news that he’ll be sponsoring the batteries for Sogno Atlantico and he’ll be providing me with advice and support during the build up to the challenge as well as emergency advice while on the ocean.


At the weekend, Canottieri Gavirate give me a prime spot to showcase the boat at the International Rowing Race. A wonderful experience talking to athletes and spectators about my challenge. There is an incredible amount of interest in the crossing and I love to answer questions that range from currents, routes, and nutrition to whether the solar panels can power an X-box! A special thanks to my wonderful girlfriend Rebecca for helping at the event – I don’t think I would have been able to do it alone. It may be a solo crossing but it’s definitely a team effort.


The event is also an opportunity to discuss clothing with one of the Sogno Atlantico sponsors (Nuova DiBi), discuss ocean rowing boats and oars with Salani (an historic Italian boat builder) and catch up with Fabio to finalise the look of some new brochures which will be provided to all the small businesses in the town: thanks to the mayor of Gavirate for the wonderful offer!

Sadly after two amazing days it’s time to pack Sogno Atlantico back in the depo and fly back home. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!