Believing in your choices and learning from difficulties
This Tuesday 12 November, at 03:41 UTC, Giancarlo Pedote and Anthony Marchand crossed the finish line of the 14th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre, completing the 4,350-mile course in 17th position. Obviously, it’s a position that doesn’t match up to either their expectations or their potential, but the two co-skippers on Prysmian Group which is also flying the flag for Electriciens sans Frontières (Electricians without Borders), who demonstrated real daring in choosing a westerly option that ultimately came with little reward, also revealed the true depth of their perseverance by having to limp around nearly half the racetrack after colliding with a non-identified object level with Cape Verde. Indeed, deprived of its starboard foil and lamenting a damaged rudder, the pair still managed to complete the event. And though the ranking was not the one they’d reckoned on, it’s been a tremendous learning experience for the duo, and for the Italian sailor in particular, who has not only amassed valuable miles with a view to his qualification for the Vendée Globe but has also continued to learn about his boat.
“Arriving in Salvador de Bahia is obviously a relief of sorts. The W’ly option we attempted like four other boats proved to be exhausting, both for the boat and for us sailors, as we did a huge amount of upwind sailing in difficult wind and sea conditions, added to which, ultimately it didn’t pay off. We knew from the start that we were taking on a more complicated passage, but it had been a considered choice, taken in agreement with our meteorologist on the last night before we left Le Havre. We stuck to our initial plan, except that the weather phenomenon we were expecting never played out that way in the end. Obviously, that was a major disappointment”, commented Giancarlo Pedote, who racked up a deficit of more than 400 miles in relation to the head of the fleet at that point, but nevertheless dug deep to get back on the scoreboard, notably counting on the famous Doldrums to reshuffle the cards. However, that was without counting on another blow dealt by fate at the latitude of Cape Verde, shortly after the midway mark. “Whilst we were making headway at 13°N and powering along at an average speed of over 15 knots in the trade winds, which we were happy to have finally located, we heard a big ‘bang’. At that point, the pair of us were down below, concentrated at the chart table. All of a sudden, the boat came to an abrupt standstill. We noticed that the starboard foil was broken and that the rudder on that same side was damaged. That was a really tough blow for us mentally,” explained the skipper of Prysmian Group, who promptly proceeded with the appropriate technical inspection and was able to determine with his shore crew that the rest of his passage was not compromised in terms of safety.
A rich experience on every level
“From that moment onwards, the race was a whole different ball game. Without a starboard foil, in the knowledge that the second half of the transatlantic passage was going to be sailed on port tack, we clearly had the boot on the wrong foot. It was fate because it’s something you cannot control. We continued our race, albeit in slo-mo, which explains why our speed wasn’t as high as that posted by our rivals”, explains Giancarlo who, like Anthony, battled right to the wire to get his machine making headway as best he could. “We attempted a whole host of different configurations: full, empty or half-full ballast tanks, keel at varying degrees… However, we never managed to find a way to prevent us from drifting sideways so the boat was only able to crab forward from then on”, lamented the Italian skipper, who has shown great courage, determination as well as resilience throughout this Transat Jacques Vabre, values shared by Prysmian Group and the #4people spirit. “That’s how it goes in offshore racing. You can go from euphoria to sadness in a fraction of a second, but you have to know how to fight and bounce back in order to move forward. Naturally, in terms of performance a 17th place is not what we were after and it’s not that easy to accept, but what I will take away with me from this race, is that it has been a fantastic experience. There have been a lot of positives. I don’t regret our W’ly option, because it enabled me to confront some harsh conditions for a long period and IMOCA is a class where you make progress through experience. I’ve learnt a vast amount in this race and I’ve been able to pinpoint various areas for consideration and improvement with a view to the Vendée Globe”, added Giancarlo, his sights already geared towards 2020.
Anthony Marchand, co-skipper on Prysmian Group: “The race was a little longer than planned, but on a human level it’s been very rewarding. Giancarlo and I got along fantastically well despite all these incidents along the way. It’s been a great experience. On a personal level, and for Giancarlo above all, we’ve learnt a great deal about the boat. He’s also amassed precious miles towards his qualification for the Vendée Globe contrary to certain others. 17th place is not the position we were gunning for at the start of course but that’s how it is. Our W’ly option could have been a blinder but the further we progressed down that route, the tighter the door closed. Very soon, we ended up with the path forward being blocked and we spent a week on a beat. We ended up in boots and foulies, slogging our guts out, whilst our playmates to the South were in shorts and T-shirt in well-established trade winds. It was incredibly hard for the morale, but we remained united and never let up, even after we suffered these issues with the foil and rudder.”
Francesco Zecchi, Director of Marketing for the Southern European Region at Prysmian Group: “Giancarlo and Anthony’s tactical decision to head West in a bid for the lead before the others was based on weather forecasts they’d been studying for a long time and, as they were well aware, it wasn’t without risks. It was a courageous choice, which highlights Prysmian Group’s competitive spirit. Despite the evolution of the weather, which later showed that this choice was not in their favour, Giancarlo and Anthony managed to find the right trajectory by knowing how to make efficient use of the trade winds. We are very proud of their performance in this event, in which Giancarlo and Anthony managed to overcome several critical moments, such as the unexpected collision with a UFO (unidentified floating object). This episode caused several elements to fail, making it especially impossible to use the starboard foil and hence preventing the boat from achieving her true potential. Knowing how to make courageous choices and overcoming hard times is very much in line with the spirit of the Prysmian Group and the #4people spirit whose ideals we are keen to convey with this project: valour, resilience and determination.”
For more details about Prysmian Group and Electriciens sans frontières : www.prysmianoceanracing.com