Published on 03/11/2020

Years of experience which take on their true meaning with the Vendée Globe

The principle behind the Vendée Globe is a simple one: a non-stop, unassisted, singlehanded round the world race. In the previous eight editions, some 165 skippers have taken the start of the event and just 88 have completed it. A far greater number of people have conquered Everest or spent some time in space! As such, the Vendée Globe is an adventure with a capital A. However, in the words of Philippe Jeantot, who launched the event back in 1989, “competition gives it an added dimension, because beyond this battle to secure victory over the elements, you also have to do better than the others”. To do so, you have to permanently excel and push the envelope. On a constant quest for adrenalin, Giancarlo Pedote, the skipper of Prysmian Group, is ready to take up the challenge. A challenge he has been preparing for relentlessly for a number of years and which, today, is giving his life true meaning.

“To be at the start of this 9th edition has enabled me to understand all the things that have been leading up to this point since I was 14 years of age. I’ve always given my all to everything I’ve undertaken, especially so in sport as I’m a born competitor”, explains Giancarlo Pedote, who was once involved in top-level boxing, as well as a range of other activities, all of which were done to the best of his ability. Establishing positive behaviour by being tough on oneself, taking things all the way… such is the modus operandi of the Italian sailor, who always strives to push the envelope on a daily basis. For him, just one question keeps cropping up time after time: “Is it the best I can do?” In this regard he’s all too aware that he needs to have prepared all his actions. It’s all about knowing what you’re doing and what you want to do to achieve it. “In a project like a Vendée Globe, it’s not about controlling everything, rather it is about reflecting clearly on the actions that need to be taken to satisfy an objective. To my mind, 80% of the project is decided on land. The more you have optimised your boat, the more physically fit you are and the harder you’ve worked on the weather, the more likely you are to minimise the number of hassles you will face at sea, because the fact is, however you approach it, there will be some hassles”, explains the skipper of Prysmian Group, who has done all he can to prepare to the best of his ability for his first round the world, an exercise which naturally involves a great many unknowns.

Parameter C
“When you’re setting off on something you don’t know, it’s hard to plan for every eventuality and imagine all the different scenarios, but a circumnavigation, whether it’s the first, the second, the third or more as a singlehanded sailor, always has an element of uncertainty about it as you’re dealt a different hand every time, if only the weather. That’s why I believe that the key to such a project is the machine’s reliability first and foremost”, says the sailor, who has consequently spared no effort since he took on the ex-Saint-Michel Virbac a year and a half ago. Good preparation of the boat and clear technical choices are essential because, as I said before, it’s a very significant part of the performance or, at the very least, it contributes a great deal to one’s chances of satisfying one’s objectives, but it doesn’t count for everything. Luck is also crucial in the success of a project. If luck is not on your side, it’s complicated. It’s Neptune who decides whether to let you through. On a personal level, I’m someone who’s quite fatalistic. I know that I’ve given myself the means to fulfil my ambitions, but I can’t control everything”, continues Giancarlo who, at the dawn of the Vendée Globe start scheduled for 8 November at 13:02 hours in the bay of Les Sables d’Olonne, understands that everything he has undertaken in recent years has been leading up to this moment. “My studies, my voyages, the different languages I speak and all the experience I’ve acquired since my adolescence are all interwoven today. In the past, I’ve sometimes felt as if I’m doing something without really knowing why, but today I realise that, without me being aware of it, I’d been putting it all in an envelope called “Vendée Globe”. Right now, it’s an envelope that is wide open… for good.