Targeting the Arctic Circle
A month on from the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race and just a matter of days after the grand parade in celebration of the 9th Vendée Globe, which set Les Sables d’Olonne alight in more ways than one, Giancarlo and his fellow competitors in the IMOCA class have now turned their attentions to the Vendée Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne. On the programme: a 3,500-mile course to the Far North. This unique course will enable the skipper of Prysmian Group and his 24 rivals to make their race debut in the Arctic Circle, where commitment and technical skills will be key!
The first event with qualification for the Vendée Globe 2024 as the prize for those who complete the course, the Vendée Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne is designed to pit the IMOCA class skippers against one another offshore, to test their mettle both competitively and technically, as well as to put their boats to the test. Leading them up to the Far North and around Iceland in the Arctic Circle, the course is the perfect training ground since it’s very demanding. “It’s a significant section of racetrack that awaits us. It’s the equivalent of a transatlantic passage in terms of miles. Though we won’t have to deal with the typical exit from Biscay, we can expect some pretty meaty conditions as we approach Iceland. We’ll need to be careful and remember that things can get dangerous up there. We’re used to the low pressure systems catching up with us in the Deep South, which generally means you’ve got time to escape them, but in the Far North, they’ll drop in on us via the west, which means you have no other option than to endure them. That requires good seamanship and you can’t afford to neglect the race either. Once again, all that will require striking the right balance at the right time in the right place,” assures Giancarlo Pedote, who has some great memories of the first edition, in 2020. “When you climb up to these latitudes, the colours in the sky are really something. It’s just crazy”, explains the Italian sailor. However, sailing across the Arctic Circle itself will be a first for him as this second edition has been extended by 800 miles, with a circumnavigation of Iceland on the cards this time. “Today, I feel happy to have experienced the Deep South. It will enable me to better apprehend certain things in this race, starting with the cold,” notes the Florentine, who will be taking his warm weather gear from the Vendée Globe.
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“It’s clearly going to be fantastic preparation for the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Last month’s Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race kind of set the tone with its six days of racing. Here, we’ll be at sea for around ten days or so,” explains the skipper of Prysmian Group and Electriciens sans frontières, who is expecting a lot of manoeuvring and multiple sail changes, especially around Fastnet and whilst circumnavigating Iceland, whose summits culminate at 2,100 metres, creating inevitable wind shadows. “It’s going to be comprehensive and intense. As ever, I’m going to try to be as focused as I can, sail a good trajectory and maintain the boat’s target speeds. Obviously, I’m hoping for some nice surprises during this race,” says Giancarlo, who will be setting sail offshore of Les Sables d’Olonne this Sunday 12 June at 17:00 hours local time. Moreover, Giancarlo is hoping to collect as many ‘Likes’ as possible along the way within the ‘1 click – 1 metre’ operation, which has been set up specially for the race by Prysmian Group, in partnership with Electriciens sans frontières. The latter NGO champions international solidarity and has been battling since 1986 to overcome inequalities regarding access to electricity and water around the globe.
The project dedicated to this Vendée Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne aims to enable the population in the village of Missahomé in Togo to have access to water and electricity in their local primary school and health centre. “The goal is to help develop the on-site infrastructure. This involves the electrification of the main primary school, the creation of a village water supply, especially for the two primary schools, the construction of environmentally-friendly dry toilets, as well as support with the market gardening activities of a women’s group who are part of a canteen programme supplying a school canteen with fresh produce,” concludes Giancarlo Pedote, who is keen to point out that 3,350 metres of cables are necessary to complete this mission.