"The Spirit of Stella"
Traveling the World Beyond Every Barrier: Fincantieri's Support for the WOW - Wheels On Waves Project by Andrea Stella
Fincantieri has embraced the WOW - Wheels On Waves project to promote a culture of inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities. Thanks to this initiative, the catamaran "The Spirit of Stella," captained by Andrea Stella, who is wheelchair-bound, has embarked on a journey around the world. Departing from Genoa, it will return to Italy in 2025 after visiting 80 ports.
Transforming challenges into a story of immeasurable human, ethical, and social value is precisely what Andrea Stella, an accomplished skipper bound to a wheelchair due to a serious accident, has accomplished through the WOW - Wheels On Waves project. Fincantieri wholeheartedly supports this initiative to stand alongside the entire community and promote a culture of inclusivity and accessibility for people with disabilities. Despite adversity, Andrea did not give up and continued to look ahead. His desire to "sail the waves of the sea again and relive those feelings of freedom and tranquility" became stronger than ever, and this project is the ultimate testament to that.
The story of WOW - Wheels on Waves and the catamaran "The Spirit of Stella"
It is precisely from this desire that the idea of traveling around the world with a catamaran, "The Spirit of Stella," was born. This 18-meter-long catamaran is capable of accommodating people with disabilities, and it gave rise to the nonprofit organization bearing the same name.. Since 2000, Stella and his colleagues have been committed to promoting social inclusion for people with disabilities through various initiatives. Among them, the WOW - Wheels On Waves project stands out, as Andrea and his catamaran will circumnavigate the globe for two years. Departing from the Porto Antico in Genoa on November 17th, this vessel will return to Italy in 2025 after visiting over 80 ports. The departure event featured the presence of Isabella Rauti, Undersecretary of Defense, Carmine Masiello, Deputy Chief of Staff, Luca Andreoli, CEO of Difesa Servizi, and the remote participation of Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto, who greatly supported this project, along with testimonials Manuel Bortuzzo and Giovanni Soldini.
Before setting sail, the catamaran hosted children with disabilities, who are the sons and daughters of our colleagues from the Muggiano and Riva Trigoso Integrated Naval Shipyard, for a day of hands-on training. They discovered the "tricks" of sailing and received valuable lessons on overcoming life's challenges and the ability to achieve one's goals, regardless of the difficulties encountered.
"The Spirit of Stella" Continues Its Journey
Leaving Genoa behind, the catamaran continued its voyage, reaching the ports of Malaga and Tenerife, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Just days before Christmas, the crew received a delightful surprise—a phone call from the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, who took the opportunity to greet them and extend his wishes.
After a brief stop in Saint Maarten, "The Spirit of Stella" arrived in the United States, at the port of Miami, where it was welcomed by both Italian and American authorities, as well as associations of American veterans. The crew also received a visit from a delegation from Fincantieri, warmly welcomed on board the catamaran by Team Leader Corrado Sulsente and the entire crew. For our colleagues in the USA, it was an opportunity to listen to Andrea's story, his mission to enable people with disabilities to fully experience the sea, and to exchange tokens of appreciation.
Fincantieri shares the values of the WOW Association and is proud to support this significant initiative, breaking down architectural barriers to create a better world within the communities where it operates, starting from the workplace and the well-being of its colleagues. Building a future where inclusion is the norm, not the exception, is a priority for the Group. It is through events like these that we celebrate and spread the values of respect and equality, with the aim to enrich the lives of young people and their parents with lasting experiences.
Fincantieri's commitment will also extend to the families of our colleagues in shipyards abroad, with the ambition to unite diverse cultures under the banner of inclusivity. Working in this direction is our mission for a fairer world, where every individual is valued, and diversity is cherished. As we await the crew's return, we wish "The Spirit of Stella" fair winds!