“My Imoca 60 for the Vendée Globe will be comfortable.” Word of Giancarlo Pedote

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Giancarlo Pedote aboard Prysmian, Photo Martina Orsini

Giancarlo Pedote is preparing for the final rush ahead of the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe, startingNovember 8, 2020 from Les Sables d’Olonne. The improvements to be made on his Imoca 60 Prysmian Ocean Racing will be mainly in the areas of ergonomics and comfort. It may seem strange to think so, but the skipper’s comfort on an ocean foiler also improves the boat’s performance. Here is what he told us about the construction site still underway.


What has the construction site been about

of Prysmian?

Our main interventions were the disassembly the inspection and reassembly of the boat. The Imoca have become very technical, so revisions of individual components are critical as finishing the regatta is already an indication of a good placing.

We switched everything to ultrasound, foils over time put a lot of stress on the boat, so you have to be very careful to do good maintenance throughout the course of the year. We intervened then on the electronics, put everything ashore and rewired the boat, so that I and the person who in this Vendée Globe project will be following the electronics and giving me technical assistance, to know the boat minutely, to have the whole system as clear as possible. Overhauling an Imoca is a big file, there are so many parts that need to be replaced because they are subject to wear and tear in various areas of the boat, it is a critical job.

How much are you focusing on ergonomics?

We are working with a studio that will do body scans and then be able to come up with sessions perfectly suited to my body shape. I have to have a chance to relax but not too much, I have to have an active position, and also the charting seat has to hold me firm, if we give a planting in a wave I have to have a secure position. We also take utmost care of the areas where I will have to sleep. In upwind and wave-formed conditions, preference is given to shallow, sheltered areas where poufs can be inserted to feel the jolts of the boat as little as possible and rest the body as best as possible. Otherwise, I will have mats designed on the physiological curve of my body, which will be placed both on the right and left side of the boat, to be used according to gaits. We are also studying a kitchen that can accommodate pots and kettles to be able to cook healthy foods. Then there will be the stand by place inside the cockpit, another area where we are developing prototypes to be tested later at sea, seats that will allow active positions but with the ability to relax the body and legs. A position that is comfortable but from which it is easy to return to action, without a particular abdominal strain that in cold conditions might lag. These seating solutions must be comfortable but not too comfortable, because otherwise getting back into action becomes difficult.


What are the performance indices

you are working on?

Boat reliability is one of the first indices of performance. A reliable boat is a boat that can go fast. Right after comes ergonomics; a rested body performs better. There may in fact be postures, which perhaps you have not studied, in which even standing still burns energy, because if the body is tense it cannot relax. Rest thus is not maximized, unnecessary energy is wasted that will later be needed in action, such as in a sail change. Even just standing inside a boat like this makes you tired, so we have to make sure that when I’m resting I’m really doing it, and in that sense the study of onboard ergonomics is crucial: being able to do things in simplicity and with a minimum of energy, in a project like this, is a key piece.

What choices are you making for the sails?

I am currently working with North Sails, and we are developing the sails based on the statistics and gaits recorded in the last editions of the Vendée Globe. Now the rule is that we will sail with 8 sails instead of 9, and this, however, does not mean a cost saving, on the contrary : it is more complex to design the whole set of sails that can cover all conditions, even the borderline conditions between one sail and the other. Right now the big debate is whether to have a spi or not. It is a 400 sq. m. sail, stocking, not easily handled solo especially in the great south. There are many of us who are wondering if it is worth having or is it better to make a large, rollable gennaker that is more manageable during the rough patches of the Southern Oceans, However, penalized when there are 10-12 knots. When you lower the spi it is always complex to put it back up, because you are tired, you have to put it back in the clear, maybe you do it very slowly and in the meantime you sail with the wrong sail, you pay for the performance of an hour with lost time later. The idea is to make a conservative choice that is not as effective as the spi, but that in sail changes allows me to be more regular in the long run, averages over the long run count and not in one-hour performance where the spi obviously is superior in certain conditions. Another important point will be the sails for the Big South, they should allow the boat to be gagged as little as possible, small sails that are maneuverable and allow fast and safe sailing in the conditions of the Big South.

What are the short-term plans?

In the coming months it is less certain because of the coronavirus, the organization of the transatlantic regattas I was to do obviously is uncertain, as rightly sailing takes a back seat to the problems we are facing. We will see the schedule day by day based on the emergency we are experiencing. We will see when everything is over what will be possible as regattas, the first one should be the Transat CIC Brest-Charleston on May 10 but it is obviously in strong doubt.

Mauro Giuffrè

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