In the southern hemisphere this evening
As the 11th day of racing draws to a close for the solo sailors competing in the 9th edition of the Vendée Globe and the fleet is stretched out across nearly 2,900 miles of the Atlantic chessboard, Giancarlo Pedote has settled into a rhythm perfectly. After a bracing start to the race, during which he had to negotiate two fronts rolling through the fleet and storm Theta, the skipper of the 60-foot IMOCA in the colours of Prysmian Group is currently making headway in the trade wind and is closing on the equator at high speed, the notorious doldrums having decided to show a particularly gentle side, bordering on inexistent, for the lead boats. It’s a stroke of luck for the Italian sailor, who is due to cross the 0 degree latitude this evening at which point he will enter the southern hemisphere.
“The heat is insane (between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius in the boat in the daytime, editor’s note), there are flying fish and Sargassum, and we’re posting peak speeds of 20 knots: there’s no doubt about it, we’re certainly in the trade wind”, quips Giancarlo Pedote, who has been sailing with the pedal to the metal for the past three days, which has enabled him to climb up into 13th position at the latest poll, thus closing on the boats at the head of the fleet. “We’re hurtling along and so much the better. It’s important to hook up with the right wagon to be in the right group on the outskirts of the Saint Helena High because gaps are likely to open up at that point”, explains the skipper of Prysmian Group, who is savouring the present moment. “Right now, it’s straight-line sailing. As such, there are no manoeuvres or stacking to do, just a few sail changes or reefs to put in. We’ve had worse!” jokes the Florentine sailor.
“This is just the start of our marathon”
“Slipping through the doldrums the way we have is literally a dream come true! We know from experience that this inter-tropical convergence zone is generally exhausting with squalls and calm areas… It’s a period of genuine meteorological stagnation in which you can end up trapped for hours or even days! Here, we just romped through, it’s almost incredible”, gushes Giancarlo, though he’ll have to put off his plans to take a shower until later on. “When you’re making headway at over 15 knots, that becomes dangerous”, notes the sailor, who this Thursday morning is positioned around 180 miles north of the equator, which he is set to cross this evening or in the early hours of tomorrow. “I can already feel the first signs of the SE’ly trade wind”, announces the skipper who has had perfect control over his positioning and his steed over recent days. “It’s fantastic. I’m very happy with my first eleven days of racing, but I’m keeping my head firmly screwed on and bearing in mind the fact that there’s a very long way to go. It’s just the start of our marathon!”, concludes Giancarlo Pedote.