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Transat Jacques Vabre: Lessons to be learned at every level

by Giancarlo Pedote 21 Sep 2019 18:03 BST 27 October 2019
Défi Azimut © Yvan Zedda

This Saturday, at 15:24 hours, Giancarlo Pedote and Anthony Marchand made the finish of the main race in the Défi Azimut, completing the 665-mile course in 13th position after a little over two days at sea.

During this time, they were subjected to varied conditions to say the least, with a steady breeze over the first two thirds of the route, which enabled them to maintain an average speed of over 20 knots and test their machine, as well as some light airs towards the end of the course, which opened up play on a tactical level. The result did not necessarily match up to expectations (and even less so its capabilities), but the event was a steep learning curve for the duo on Prysmian Group, whose sights are now very firmly on the Transat Jacques Vabre.

The main race in the ninth Défi Azimut - and the final major offshore clash for the 60-foot IMOCAs prior to the famous Coffee Route race, the kick-off for which is scheduled for 27 October 2019 - was heralded as an intriguing event on several levels, and it did not disappoint. The reason for this is that it enabled the main runners and riders to position themselves on the leader board and size up the competition, whose steeds have either just been launched or undergone major refits over recent months. With regards Prysmian Group, Giancarlo Pedote and Anthony Marchand naturally had a chance to validate a certain number of points, as evidenced by the Italian skipper.

"We hadn't done a huge amount of sailing in slightly meaty conditions in the run-up to the transatlantic race and, in this regard, this 665-mile triangular course across the Bay of Biscay with up to 25 knots of breeze has been interesting. The first long sprint between the island of Groix and the first virtual mark, at the top of the Arcachon basin, went fairly well for us. We were racing in contact with a good group, made up predominantly of latest generation boats. After that, between mark 1 and mark 2, located offshore of the tip of Brittany, we made a poor sail choice, which caused us to drop back a fair few places, a period accompanied by a big broach as we crossed tacks with a cargo ship, that too causing us to lose time. At that point, we lost our grip on that main pack a bit", commented the skipper of Prysmian Group which, having been up in seventh place for a long while, then found itself knocked out of the Top 10.

"At the end, we didn't attempt anything special. We were just weaving our way along like the others. Despite all that, in the light patch, we managed to make up a bit of ground and overtake some of our rivals. Things didn't turn out quite as well as I'd have liked in terms of results as we were aiming for better than 13th place. On the positive side though, we did manage to test out a fair amount of stuff as the pace was high and the race intense. We know that there is still a bit of fine-tuning to be done on the autopilot we've just switched to and the suit of sails we're rejigging next year, but all in all, even though we've got a few odd jobs to do, there's nothing significant to report. On a personal level, I'm beginning to get a real feel for the boat so I have a better idea of what I need to continue to work on aboard her, but I'm fairly happy with what I see today", concluded Giancarlo Pedote, who is due to compete in the third and final round of the Défi Azimut 2019: a sprint around the island of Groix in shorthanded format, the start of which is scheduled for 13:00 hours.

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