The ebullient Italian skipper Giancarlo Pedote is focused on the hunt for more speed this winter, with his 2015-vintage IMOCA, Prysmian Group, back in the shed for new foils.

His goal is to compete further up the field in all the IMOCA GLOBE SERIES races this year and in next year’s Vendée Globe but, while the work has been going on in Lorient, he has also been watching The Ocean Race drama unfold in the Southern Ocean.

In fact, the only Italian sailor in the IMOCA ranks right now, is more than just a casual observer because the fully-crewed round-the-world race is one he would love to do himself in Italian colours.

“Yes, of course I’d love to do it, why not?” Pedote told the Class in an interview conducted on the phone while he was travelling from France back to Italy this week.

“My priority is to do one good Vendée Globe next year,” said the skipper who finished 8th in the last solo round-the-world race, “but, in any case, The Ocean Race is something new for me and if we find the budget – and another partner that wants to do the race – then why not? For me, it would be a new experience and I am open to it. If we can have a good group, we are ready to take the start,” he added.

© Eloi Stichelbaut - polaRYSE

A highly successful Mini sailor and a former Transat Jacques Vabre winner in the Ocean Fifty class, Pedote has been impressed with the way race leader Kevin Escoffier and his crew have gone about their business on Team Holcim-PRB.

“They are sailing very well,” he said. “Their boat is proving to be fast and they had a good preparation because, even when they have had little problems, they have fixed them well. So I think it is a good opportunity for Kevin and his crew to keep strong and take care of the boat and take care of the situation in the race.”

While he has not been surprised to see Escoffier dominate the race so far, he says none of the other three boats still racing on this leg should be written off, among them Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing Team, currently in fourth place, around 580 miles behind Team Holcim-PRB.

“We know that 11th Hour Racing Team made a very careful preparation,” said Pedote. “They trained for a long time with a boat that was prepared specially for The Ocean Race and it was one of the crews that was regarded as a strong prospect.”

© Jean-Louis Carli

Pedote says his own boat, which had a new bow added last year, will remain in the shed at Gepeto Composites in Lorient for another two months as new, bigger, Guillaume Verdier-designed foils and foil casings are added, along with structural alterations to strengthen the hull to withstand greater impacts. The modifications this time also include a new roof over the cockpit to give the 47-year-old Italian skipper more protection.

Pedote can’t wait to get back out on the water to test his boat in its new configuration and put it through its paces. “It will be interesting to see what happens with the new foils, in terms of boatspeed, and we hope and trust that it will be a big opportunity for me and my team to have a higher performance boat and to try to play at the front of the group,” he said. “It was something that we missed in the last races.”Last season Pedote finished 8thin the Guyader Bermudes 1000 Race, 12th in the Vendée Arctique and 16th in the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe.

He knows it will take time to understand how to use the new foils to their best advantage. “I think that now our focus will be to try to understand how the boat will sail with the new foils, and understand the different trim techniques, and try to quickly find the new speed, try to learn the different settings of the foils and the rake and try, also, to have a boat than can stay in one piece and doesn’t break – that is our goal,” he said.

Although he has a full IMOCA Globe Series schedule ahead of him this season, with the Transat Jacques Vabre as the main goal, Pedote’s eye remains on next year’s Vendée Globe and it is clear that his passion for racing in the IMOCA Class remains undimmed.

“If anything, it is stronger than before,”he said, “because first you try it and then you say ‘OK, I like it very much’ and after four years in the class, finally, I sailed the Vendée Globe. Now I know what the challenge is, and I know all the different races, so I am still young enough to race against my friends,” he added.

Ed Gorman