Giancarlo Pedote, the story of the 2016 Sailor of the Year (“I am a working-class sailor”)


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Giancarlo Pedote was the 2016 Sailor of the Year. Find out (if you don’t know yet) who is the Florentine ocean sailor who has repeatedly managed to bring the French, the absolute specialists of the course au large, into line.

Taken from The Journal of Sailing June 2016. Aboard whatever boat he went, Giancarlo Pedote won: data in hand, he is the strongest ocean sailor we have in Italy today. In 2015, the FFV (the French sailing federation) awarded him and Erwan Le Roux, his partner on the Multi 50 trimaran FenetrèA-Prysmian, the prestigious 2015 Trophée des Champions as a result of their important achievements during the year: winning the Transat Jacques Vabre, the very tough race from Le Havre (France) to Itajaì (Brazil) and all the other Multi 50 races on the calendar.

We also cannot fail to mention his glorious 2014, which saw him at the top of all Mini class regattas in France (even then, he was elected French Sailor of the Year) and his second place at the Mini Transat in 2013. Now Giancarlo wants to fly: for a year he will test himself on Moths. Following his coronation as 2016 Sailor of the Year, engineer Valerio Battista, CEO of Prysmian, the company that has long supported Giancarlo, took the stage in surprise: “Companies from all over Italy, join me. Let’s send Pedote to the Vendée Globe!” In fact, all that is missing is the nonstop solo round-the-world race for the Florentine sailor born in ’75. And we are sure that he could do really well. It may be a little late for the 2017 edition, but we are sure that if he could find the budget, Giancarlo would hang up the moth to brave the oceans.

You cross the finish line of one of the toughest editions of the Mini Transat in second place. Never had any Italian done as well as you. You should be celebrating, but you’re not. In fact, you have the carrion inside because you, in this Mini, had participated to win and made no secret of it. No bubbly, just a big pissed off because your name is. Giancarlo Pedote and you are someone who, when he embarks on a venture, demands the best of himself: and if your bowsprit breaks with 300 miles to go (out of a 3,700-mile race), allowing the Frenchman Benoît Marie to snatch victory from you, you can’t get over it. We have introduced you in a few lines to the strength of Giancarlo Pedote, the loner who made us dream until the last at the Mini Transat: he is someone who does not know what it means to “rest on his laurels.”

Pedote on windsurfing in Follonica in 1994...
Pedote on windsurfing in Follonica in 1994…


Pedote was born in Florence in 1975 to parents who were civil servants and could not afford to enroll their child in a sailing school. However, Giancarlo likes the sea, very much: “My history with the sea,” he says, “began as a child. One of the first experiences I remember was retrieving a bottle that my father dropped on the bottom of the sea; I was about 6 years old. But I had to wait until I was 12 years old to get close to sailing: my father bought a heavy sailboard with a wooden daggerboard that was not retractable and had a large triangular sail. I remember ruining my arms pulling it up and down.” At 16 years old, Pedote is a good self-taught windsurfer who, while not a member of any club, enjoys off the coast of Follonica pulling edges along with his “popular” sailing friends.

…and on the Hobie Cat

Meanwhile, the 1990s arrived, the Moro di Venezia made Italians dream, and the passion for offshore sailing exploded in the Boot: it was an all-too-solid economic period and charter schools proliferated: Giancarlo’s cousin, Piero, worked for one of them and often had to make transfers: “My cousin proposed that I accompany him on a transfer of a cabin cruiser from Greece to Italy. I can say that was my first contact with long sailing: it happened very late, since we were in 1998!” In the meantime, Pedote became a windsurfing instructor, a profession he does part-time to pay for his university studies (he will graduate with a degree in philosophy in 2001), and took his first steps into the world of dinghies, on Hobie Cat 16s. but the voyage together with Piero changed his conception of sailing: “I was struck by how many things you had to know how to do on board: you didn’t just have to take care of carrying the boat, but check the engine, put yourself at the chart table, use a tester correctly, know every single part of the boat to deal with emergencies. I realized that it wasn’t enough to be a good sailor, you needed a good amount of seamanship. I learned how to take apart inboard and outboard engines: since I had never owned a moped to ‘rig’ in my youth it was on a boat that I completed my ‘field apprenticeship’ as a mechanic.”

Pedote leaves teaching sailboarding to devote himself to small cabin cruisers: he participates in many winter championships aboard the boats of friends and acquaintances, like a normal enthusiast. He then became an instructor at the “La Via del Mare” cooperative in Florence, Italy.: “In my veins flowed the blood of a sportsman, I had practiced boxing and kickboxing competitively in my youth: now I wanted to challenge myself as an offshore sailor. I took part in my first Giro d’Italia sailing race (he would complete four, ed.) and in the Transat des Alizés, where aboard an Open 60, paired with Margherita Pelaschier, I completed the Atlantic crossing from Portugal to Saint Barth, finishing in second place. In 2001 I had also had the good fortune to prepare an Open 50 for the Jacques Vabre, acquiring skills in the field of tuning an oceanic boat.” Giancarlo decides to put all these experiences to use in an ultratechnical book, “The Skipper’s Handbook.”, which he published for Mursia in 2004: “I was already dreaming of the Mini Transat back then, I tried a self-sponsored campaign in 2003, participating in the Rome for Two with my cousin Piero in a rented Mini, but it did not go very well. I decided that if I started with a sports project, I would only do it with the certainty of being competitive. I wrote the book with the intention of making myself known in the sailing world, to raise sponsors who could support me.” Not surprisingly, the book’s opening dedication reads, “To the first boat that will give me the Ocean solo. Sponsor urgently sought.”. Between 2005 and 2007 Pedote freed himself from teaching and entered the world of professional sailing, serving as tailer and bowman on monotypes (such as Swan 45 and Mumm 30), Maxi and IRC.

Prysmian 626
Prysmian 626

In 2007 Giancarlo found a reliable sponsor in Prysmian: “I was faced with the choice of a lifetime: I knew what to do. I emptied my bank account, got into debt, and bought my first 650 in Spain., the Pogo 2 626, which I took to Punta Ala. At the time I was sharing a house in the Sienese hills with a friend of mine. From one day to the next I told him, ‘Bye, I’m going,’ angering him not a little. I would participate in the 2009 Transat: in Punta Ala, where I was sleeping aboard a Sun Fast 37 provided by Via del Mare during the preparation stages of the boat, I met Matteo Severi, who would become my assistant. I did very little training, given my obsession with boat preparation. I didn’t trust anyone: before participating in the San Remo Mini Solo for example I decided to hull myself on the eve of the race: I took the tanks at a dive center near a parking lot. They had been refilled with contaminated air from car exhausts. I felt faint, started off feeling terrible, and at the first buoy I found myself in sixth place: I had a coffee, inhaled deeply, and my ‘hangover’ passed. I started pulling like crazy and won the regatta. I realized that anything was possible.” In fact, in 2009 Pedote moved to Loriént, Brittany, met his wife Stefania, and at the Mini Transat finished fourth among the Serie, best result ever achieved by an Italian: “Too bad for my friend Riccardo Apolloni, with whom I had prepared the Transat, who was beached a few miles from the finish: he was third.”


Filed the Transat Pedote sells 626: the desire to get back into the game is great but the wallet is crying, so he opts for a two-year stint on the Figaro, where he doesn’t shine but doesn’t disfigure either. In January 2012 came the decision to buy David Raison’s Teamwork 747, winner of the 2011 Mini Transat, the famous Proto with the round bow: “A very demanding boat that needs to be tuned to perfection. I put two years of hard work into it, especially for carrying gaits.” Work well paid off: in 2013, Giancarlo won the Trinité-Plymouth, the Trophée Marie-Agnès Peron and was second at the Demi-Cle and Pornichet Select. Cards in hand, he is the strongest: an Italian at the top of the international ranking. “I left for the Mini that I was a lion, I felt strong, and my son had just been born. I had my first stage cancelled when I was four miles from the finish. I was angry but even more charged. When, while leading 300 miles from Guadeloupe during the single leg, after a strake I broke the bowsprit, I repaired it in three hours but the big spi was not efficient because I had to shorten the bowsprit. So Marie took the victory. So goes the sail, but what rotten blood“. Now Giancarlo, the best Italian minnow ever, is waiting to sell his Prysmian 747, which is coveted by many: first he has to figure out if his plan to participate in the Vendée Globe on an Imoca 60, supported by Prysmian and other sponsors, will come to life. His determination will serve him well.




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