Giancarlo Pedote: “What else besides cepes and depressions?”
With less than three days until kick-off in the 12th edition of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, the pressure is slowly but surely mounting dockside in Saint Malo. This is further heightened by the fact that the weather conditions for the first few miles of the course are forecast to be rather meaty, with the passage of a front likely to generate gusts of more than 50 knots offshore of Brittany this Monday. For his part, Giancarlo Pedote is remaining very serene, though he’s aware that if the forecast conditions play out, he’ll have to hunker down to protect his 60-footer in the colours of Prysmian Group and Electriciens sans Frontières. Specialising in the production of energy and telecommunications cables, ESF, an NGO championing international inclusivity, is repeating its ‘1 click – 1 metre’ operation, this time with the aim of taking action for the benefit of the peoples of Ukraine.
“What do you expect to find in November in Saint Malo? What else besides cepes and depressions?” jokes Giancarlo Pedote, who’s not terribly surprised to see a very deep depression currently rolling across the Atlantic. This closed zone of low atmospheric pressure could well shake up the fleet during the first days of racing, especially over the course of Monday. Indeed, ahead of the front, the skipper of Prysmian Group and his rivals could well encounter some S’ly winds with gusts in excess of 50 knots on seas with 6 to 7-metre waves. Suffice to say that if this scenario is confirmed, the sailors are sure to get stung from the get-go. “It’s fairly normal, during this time of year, to set sail within a big low pressure system. The exit from the English Channel and the exit from the Bay of Biscay are never easy places to negotiate. Ultimately, it’s always pretty much the same old refrain. However, what’s special this time is that there’s certainly no way around it. Whatever happens, it’ll be important to negotiate this disturbed system and sail intelligently so as not to break the boat. In short, we’ll have to know how to ride out the storm during the complicated moments,” explains the Italian sailor, who’s already had to deal with even more Dantean conditions during his Vendée Globe. “The second front we had to endure during the round the world was more violent, which makes it possible to keep things in perspective here. In any case, we’ll have no other option than to deal with whatever we get. Obviously, no-one’s ever very keen to go head on into the teeth of something, but when you have to go for it, you have to go for it!”, says the Florentine somewhat placidly, though he’s not knocking how tough things will be for him and the 137 other solo sailors competing in the event.
Do as best you can and champion the ‘Solidarité Ukraine’ operation
“It certainly won’t be the time to try to be clever. We know that in these types of conditions, even though the grib files are not yet properly aligned and that the situation could still change, half of them see us coming out unscathed and the other we’re kind of bent in two. I consider it an asset to have a boat that we’ve made thoroughly reliable, even though, in a mechanical sport, no one is ever protected from a glitch,” explains Giancarlo, who remains clear-headed regarding the performance of his boat today. “I’m all too aware that whatever happens, I’m not in a position to vie for the top spots. You have to be realistic, that is until the scheduled refit next year,” continues the skipper who, it’s worth noting, plans to do his very best to make the right strategic choices and get his boat making headway as best he can. “For me, the most important thing, and I make no secret of the fact, is to be in tip-top condition at the start of the next Vendée Globe, in 2024. The Route du Rhum, like the other races in the run-up to that, are preparation races.