An ITC-ILO official sails single-handed from France to Brazil!
1. Daniela, why did you decide to take part in the regatta?
This race is much more than a sports event. It took me over three years of hard, meticulous preparation to get on to the list of sailors. In those years, I put in all the resources I had, together with ones I did not have. I had to learn things ranging from astronomy to electronics, but above all I had to push my limits further and further. No other project I have ever undertaken has forced me to mobilize so many things in my life and transform myself into my own “engine” in this way. You have to challenge yourself, and to do that I have had to bring together many “reasonable” persons and to accept risks that are totally irrational from the point of view of a normal life. But in the end, I know that every single competitor who arrives at the finishing line will have won a victory over themselves. It is a question of heart, of commitment, of never giving up and of always finding the resources inside yourself to overcome the obstacles in life.
2. Can you tell our readers a little about your experience of competitive sailing?
I have taken part in many national and international sailing events on larger boats, from the Giraglia Rolex Cup to winter championships as helmsman. I have sailed over and through the Atlantic for over 10,000 miles, and crossed the Equator several times. In 2007, I bought a boat to race in the “Transat 6.50”, so called because it is exclusively for boats that are only six and a half metres long. In my qualification period, I sailed in many regattas in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. I won the Course de Lions and the Mini Max in 2007. I took one third place and one fourth place in the Grand Prix d’Italie. Overall, since 2007, I have sailed around 8,000 miles.
3. What did you have to learn while preparing for this race?
I had to bring together the skills typical of project management, promotion, resource mobilization, finance, communication, etc. I had to learn technical stuff. I have to be able to repair everything on board, a broken sail, a hole in the hull, weld, fix electrical problems, calibrate electronics, rigging, workloads, cartography and astronomy. Then I did a course on meteorology with Jean-Yves Bernot (who has navigated for many famous off-shore sailors such as Ellen McArthur). I have done psychological training with a coach who prepared sailors for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. A nutritionist gave me a new view of food and energy, and a specialist on sleep also coached me.
4. What view of the world will you have from your craft? Is it right to say that these journeys give you a different perception of time and life?
On board, while sailing offshore, there is no difference between day and night, and there is very little time for resting or eating. Everything is organized always to keep maximum speed, find the right strategy first and then the right tactics. As it is a race, you want to push ahead as much as possible, but you also have to keep your material and yourself in the best possible condition, because if you break down in the middle of the ocean, unless your very life is in danger, nobody will come and help you.
5. You must have a heightened awareness of energy consumption and a lot of respect for the environment to do this race. Can you tell us how this will affect your regatta?
Energy on board is very important. Energy makes your autopilot and your GPS work. My energy aboard is generated by solar cells and fuel cells. These are two “clean” and effective ways to get power, but it is not unlimited, so you have to use it carefully. All the waste has to be stored on the boat throughout the race; not a single tea-bag is thrown in the sea. The race and its organizers aim to protect the environment and have created a project called “Blue Label” that encourages children from France, Madeira and Brazil to protect the marine environment through discovering other cultures, civilizations and solidarity. It involves children in a sports event, develops their minds and their curiosity, and makes them aware of sustainable development. In 2007, the project involved about 9,200 children.