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Published on 25/01/2021

Giancarlo Pedote: “We’re not on land playing ping-pong”

Whilst making headway this Monday in the midst of the Azores archipelago, between Terceira and Sao Miguel, with less than 1,200 miles to go before he makes landfall in Les Sables d’Olonne, which equates to a little less than three days at sea, Giancarlo Pedote, the skipper of Prysmian Group, remains especially focused. Indeed, there’s no question of him taking his eye off the ball right now and he’s certainly not thinking about the finish. There’s no way he’s going to predict his ranking either, particularly with the final weather picture still proving very uncertain, which means that anything is still possible.

It’s the home straight now for the leaders of the Vendée Globe. Indeed, according to the latest routing, the top eight are expected to cross the finish line offshore of Les Sables d’Olonne between Wednesday and Thursday. Though some of the competitors are already beginning to cast their mind forwards to making their entrance into the channel of Port Olona, getting dockside or dreaming of a good steak once they make landfall, the skipper of Prysmian Group remains fully focused on his race to make sure he doesn’t cut any corners. “One thing at a time”, explains the Florentine. “I’m not thinking about the finish or the result. That’s been my philosophy since the start of this round the world and I’m not going to change that now. I like to live in the here and now and it’s important to remember that the ranking is not just dependent on us. We’re not on land playing ping-pong. We’re at sea playing with an element that’s always stronger than us and it will be the one calling the shots out here. That’s something I’m keeping firmly in my mind”, assures Giancarlo. The Italian sailor is all too aware, the conditions for the end of this 9th Vendée Globe course are shaping up to be uncertain and full-on, especially over the last few miles. “We need to remain clear-headed right the way to the wire. We’re going to have some light patches and some breeze… We’re going to have to put in some reefs, hoist more sail area at the right moment, race well with the boats around us, make the right choices and try to maintain a good speed… In short, it’s all to play for!” explains Giancarlo, well aware that the fatigue has been building steadily over the last two and a half months, both in terms of the skippers’ bodies and the keels of the 60-foot IMOCAs.

Giving one’s all for the final sprint

Despite everything, we’re eager to battle to the finish. We’re also keen to really make the most of these last few days at sea before we rekindle our ties with life on land. It’s strange to explain and doubtless complicated to understand, but during this round the world, there have been times when I’ve forgotten that I am at sea. I’ve always been so focused on my trajectories, my manoeuvring and my on-board routing that I’ve often forgotten to look around me”, says the skipper. “It’s a bit of a shame, but our boats are so quick that ultimately they leave little time for contemplation, even though there were times in the Deep South where I looked back at my wake and got a real thrill from it, sensing that I was really connecting with nature”, comments Giancarlo, admitting that he’s feeling apprehensive about making landfall on the Vendée coast. “The second part of the Bay of Biscay should be fairly full-on, but it won’t compare to the conditions we had in the Deep South. We’re going to have to be careful as we make our approach towards Les Sables d’Olonne. It’s a zone with a huge amount of fishermen and a lot of boats, which don’t always have their AIS turned on. We’re going to have to save up a lot of energy for that period, especially if we finish off with a storm as forecast”. In essence then, “now is not the time for relaxing”.