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“The Grand Tour” sports initiative continues

by Franco Deganutti 29 Aug 2023 23:58 PDT
From left: Franco Deganutti , Marco Rosmann , Federica Tuniz, Elisabetta Maffei and Manuel Vlacich portrayed at the start of The Grand Tour 2022 edition on Lake Geneva, Switzerland © Franco Deganutti

From an idea born in 2021 by the sportsmen Franco Deganutti and Manuel Vlacich, the "The Grand Tour Sailing" project continues again this year which, to date, has already successfully completed one of the three sailing stages scheduled for 2023.

The 2023 edition plans to sail with the same formula used in 2022 which guaranteed the team of sailors to win a Guinness World Record: "Three stages, in the same year, with the same boat". This year's stops are represented by Loch Ness in Scotland, by the lowest navigable place on Earth, the Dead Sea (- 430m asl) between Israel, Jordan and Palestine, and by the highest navigable place in the world, the Titicata (+3.812m asl) between Peru and Bolivia.

The first stage was completed, after 6,000 km of journey, last June, recording a distance record in crossing the entire Loch Ness lake by sail from south to north in less than five hours, without any mechanical propulsion instrument, but with only wind power aboard Tiwal inflatable boats.

The "The Grand Tour" team is now ready for the second objective: to navigate the highest waters in the world, located between Peru and Bolivia. With its 204 km in length and 65 km in maximum width, Lake Titicaca occupies an area of 8,372 km" making it the eighteenth largest lake in the world. Its altitude of +3,812 meters above sea level also makes it the navigable point with the highest altitude in the world. After having faced the typical conditions of Scotland, characterized by a cool, humid and windy climate and before preparing for the suffocating conditions of the Judean desert, the new challenge for the crews will be to settle at an altitude close to four thousand meters with very rarefied and with possible consequences due to acclimatization. Once this test has been passed, the goal will be to circumnavigate the Isla del Sol: the largest floating island on the lake and, still today, inhabited by the Uros: a population who fled the Inca invasions who have lived on these artificial islands ever since.

Franco Deganutti compete in a match race with Elisabetta Maffei, also known on the web for her famous youtube channel "25nodi". An expert sailor against an entrepreneur in the nautical sector, with a navigation experience of over 8000 miles solo aboard a Mini 650: who will have the upper hand in the "highest match race in the world"?

However, it can be said that the real challenge will be the logistical one. Over 120kg of boats and technical material (to which must be added personal luggage) to be transported over a distance of 11,000 kilometres. Considering the flights with the relative technical stopovers and the various transfers on vehicles of all kinds, everything will be reduced to a minimum, both in terms of size and weight. It took weeks of studies and tests to be able to measure and weigh every single component of the boats, to then arrange the necessary items in the four bags that will contain the boats in order to overcome the strict limits imposed by the carriers during the journey. In the complex study of logistics, the team of The Grand Tour also had to foresee the possibility of a piece of luggage being lost during the journey, without this compromising the success of the challenge, thus dividing all the equipment not only by size, weight and volume, also for purposes of use.

The departure is scheduled for 11 September from Venice with a first stopover in Atlanta (USA). The following night the crews will embark again, this time towards Lima, the capital of Peru, where they will land in the early morning hours of the second day of travel. There will then be an obligatory stop in Peru for about 20 hours. At 3 am local time on the third day of travel, the team will have to re-embark all bags on the domestic flight from Lima to El Alto airport in La Paz Bolivia. Once they arrive at the airport located at +4061m above sea level, Franco and Elisabetta will have to recover all their luggage again and load it onto a typical local van to reach Copacabana in a couple of hours by road: the largest town in the lake Titicaca. Once they arrive in Copacabana, lastly, they will have to reach Isla del Sol in about an hour of navigation aboard one of the boats that offer the transport service. This will be the team's base camp for the following days. The challenge will take place approximately on 15 September 2023.

Considering the destination and the unforeseen events that could occur, the attitude of the team will, as always, be ready for any eventuality in case of delays, cancellations, changes of plans. During the organization of the trip, we tried to prepare for every single unexpected event, anticipating any alternatives which, with the constant support of the ground team from Italy in case of need, will be identified.

Partners and sponsors of the initiative

VennVind again this year for the supply of all the team's technical clothing, from media partner of the initiative with the publication of a web series dedicated to the company, from the support of the Municipality of Monfalcone, headquarters of the Società Vela Oscar Cosulich, the sports club in which the initiative was born, as well as the " Io Sono Friuli Venezia Giulia " brand created for the enhancement and promotion of the cultural and sporting realities of the regional territory.

This year's sporting initiative The Grand Tour was entitled "Lakes Edition, before it's too late". This last phrase wants to draw the urgent attention of the public to how much the theme of environmental sustainability is affecting, with extreme rapidity, not only the seas and oceans, but also the rivers and lakes of the whole world.

For this project of his, The Grand Tour, he obtained the patronage of One Ocean Foundation, an Italian initiative of international importance established in 2018 with the aim of accelerating solutions to ocean problems by inspiring international leaders, promoting a sustainable blue economy and improving knowledge of the oceans through ocean literacy.

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