Meeting with Patrizio Roversi

by Silvia Colombini, picture by and Eliana Salvador

"I have learned to feel the breath of the sea." Patrizio Roversi in New Zealand with Giovanni Salvador.

"After having travelled half the world, welcomed aboard so many people, I thought I had almost become an experienced sailor...Picture of a person on a boat
but instead, thanks to a special guest, I discovered that the sea still had in reserve other surprises for me."
One morning at the end of the summer, the city is already grey and noisy with traffic, but when Patrizio Roversi is recounting his story, in Bologna the sky becomes a little bluer. Author, television figure, traveller, Patrizio is also a protagonist for the broadcasting of Velistipercaso. Navigating with Adriatica (a sloop which is a sailboat of 50 tons with a single mast of 22 meters), he travelled around the world in one year and 80 people, all showbusiness personalities. "Among others, Vito, Giorgio Comaschi, Cesare Cremonini, Gerry Scotti, Natasha Stefanenko and Cino Ricci, my sailing professor. Arriving nearly at the end of the trip, on the route Fidji-Auckland, we decide to have a contest to host one of the spectators during the last 10 days of the trip. Thousands of them responded and among all of them, the editorial staff suggests Giovanni Salvador: An expert sailor and a blind person."
Patrizio has a moment of doubt: Adriatica has taught him that the sea, the real one, can be dangerous.
He therefore experiences a certain degree of anxiety that on board a blind person could represent a problem, but his captain encourages him and Patrizio decides to try.
"I only had to see him arrive at the airport on the Fidji Islands with his wife Eliana to feel friendship toward him. Giovanni is enthusiasticPicture of Patrizio Roversi at the helm, courageous and also a passionate sailor." The first evening, on the bridge, the two of them discover, other than sailing, another experience in common this time more dramatic. "Giovanni tells me that he lost his sight because of a glaucoma that was not cared for, and a few months before our departure for our trip around the worldPicture of Giovanni Salvador on the boat, I learned that I had the same disease.
Medical progress and well-timed care have allowed me to keep it under control, but this experience has taught me a lot. Our first conversation, recorded by the operator, became part of the program itself in order to address the issue for spectators about prevention regarding glaucoma." But it is the day after that Patrizio discovers Giovanni's ability.
"In half an hour, he explored Adriatica; someone described things to him while he touched everything carefully on the 22-meter sailboat, then I knew he was in control of the situation. Meanwhile, I realized, as I was exploring the sailing ship as Giovanni did, that our boat was in a real mess and that our untidiness could cause him, and even us as well, serious problems with unseen obstacles. This is the first positive contribution that Giovanni's presence hadPicture of the Adriatica on board."
From that moment on, Giovanni is an active member of the crew, he helps with the manoeuvres, goes at the helm.
The way he could feel the sea is absolute, he immerses himself with all his senses and succeeds in perceiving every stimulus: the wind, the sound of the waves, the bearing of the boat. Patrizio understands that this is the right way to become a true sailor.
"This is what had taught me THE Cino Ricci but that I refused to learn: you have to feel the boat, you have to listen to it underneath your feet. But, I, not being a sailor but a television figure, until then I had limited myself to being a passenger, using the tools and the technology but forgetting that my senses were there for me. It is not rhetorical: Giovanni has taught me to see differently, to overcome the limits of a rational knowledge, experiencing new emotions."Picture of Patrizio Roversi, Giovanni and Eliana Salvador
Other than offering more intense sensations, broadening of the sensory perception is really the best way to navigate. The sea offers various sensations, for who knows how to perceive them, that are magnified by the silence and the intensity of the air. It is as though the expanse all around you indicates to you where to go, when to haul taut the mainsail and how to veer.
But, surprises still continue out of the water.
"We arrive in Auckland, New Zealand, and go for a visit of the Sky Tower. It is the highest tower of the southern hemisphere. 328 meters in height, 80 kilometers of view in each direction, it is the challenge of the Sky Jump, a free flight held by a harness.
And who is the first to go? Giovanni! I could not believe it, but he just jumped, enthusiastic as always." Patrizio saw Giovanni again at the Nautical Show in Venice where with Cino Ricci he participated in a regatta for blind people where were used instruments geared for independence. The best souvenirs however are those on board of the Adriatica where with Giovanni we experienced humanity, fantasy, truth, and a new more genuine relation with the outside world.