Giancarlo Pedote: “Sailing is a mechanical sport and you have to accept that”
Some tests are more difficult than others and this 12th Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is evidence of this. Indeed, faced with the loss of his J2 – a large and important headsail – just two days into the race, as he was making headway in some trying conditions around 140 miles to the north-west of Cape Finisterre, slugging it out for a place in the Top 10 – Giancarlo Pedote’s performance was immediately handicapped. This damage naturally changed the face of the race for him, but as per usual, the skipper of Prysmian Group produced an admirable display of dogged determination and self-sacrifice to complete his transatlantic passage. And he did so in style this Wednesday at 05:47 UTC, picking off his rivals one by one to secure 16th place in the IMOCA fleet.
Deprived of his J2, a valuable headsail attached to the mainstay and mounted on a furler, from day two of the race, Giancarlo Pedote inevitably staggered under the blow initially. “Overnight, the sail blew clean apart, split in two. I was down below and we had twenty knots or so of breeze. We were really slamming, but it wasn’t the first time I’d sailed in such conditions. At that point I ended up with a section of sail stuck up on the mast and another sail in the sea. I pulled on the helm and gathered everything up. The whole operation required a phenomenal amount of energy. My arms felt like they were at breaking point, causing me to cry out in pain,” recalls the Florentine, who ultimately battled through it and managed to make his boat safe so he could continue on his way as best he could despite this handicap. “I was forced to continue making headway under J3 (a jib that is half the size of the J2 – editor’s note). It wasn’t easy because essentially the upwind conditions required the J2 until the last front rolled through. I did think twice about shifting across to the west of the Azores to make up for this shortfall, but ultimately that’s where I played the card that would enable me to cut through to the south of the ridge of high pressure, but it wasn’t the right option,” explained the Italian sailor, who regularly strove to sail his own race, resolved not to suffer the situation, but rather remain on the offensive, as he does when everything’s in tip-top condition aboard.
“I’m happy with how the second half of the race played out downwind. I made good speed and, despite being quite a long way back, I managed to make up considerable ground on the group ahead, finding some interesting sail configurations in the process,” commented the skipper of Prysmian Group, who slowly but surely managed to claw back a number of places over the final third of the course before rounding the Tête à l’Anglais in 16th position and holding onto this same place on the finish line this morning at 05:47 UTC, after 13 days, 16 hours and 32 minutes of racing (1 day and 22 hours after the Imoca winner, Thomas Ruyant). “Obviously, I’d have liked to have done better, but sailing is a mechanical sport and you have to accept that,” conceded Giancarlo, despite sparing no effort out on the racetrack. “I put in a lot of manoeuvres going around Guadeloupe. I’m very pleased with my trajectory. As I made landfall at Grande-Terre, Benjamin Ferré was positioned further offshore and that enabled me to get a clear approach on the island. After that, I fell into a light patch, like everyone else, I think. The passage around the Basse-Terre mark was tough, as it was necessary to put in some tacks in the other direction in a small space. I thought I would have more breeze at the Canal de Saintes, but that didn’t prove to be the case and then I was caught up in a fair few squalls right the way to the finish,” explained the sailor, who has completed the event safe in the knowledge that he gave his all with the weapons at his disposal. “When you’re competing, it’s tough-going for the majority of the time. On a personal level, I don’t think about enjoying myself, rather I think about doing things right and sticking with my rivals. Of course, there are moments where the boat is making fantastic headway and that’s spectacular, but above all you have to constantly pay attention to what you’re doing and that takes precedence over everything else. This Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe has had mixed results for me. The lack of J2 certainly compromised my race. Once I’m rested, I need to think over the different options I could have taken,” concludes Giancarlo Pedote, his sights already on what comes next and notably the 2023 season. Indeed, it’s a season that promises to be a turning point in his project in terms of performance as he is having some brand new foils fitted!