Antarctica: the great white continent and one of the remotest and wildest areas on earth – magnificent and largely unchanged since the brave early explorers: it is of prime interest to Monaco and in particular the need to protect what is home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of wildlife; where penguins, seals and whales are the only permanent residents.
Under the aegis of its Explorers Club, the Yacht Club de Monaco organised a conference to announce the next departure of the expedition Antarctic Blanc, of which it is a partner.
Johen Werne, cofounder of GOST (Global Offshore Sailing Team) which is behind the project, led the presentation accompanied by Dr Benon Z. Janos, Meteorology Officer and Environmental Initiatives Coordinator; Bernard d’Alessandri, YCM General Secretary; Mr Ziegenfeuter, representing the Club’s Board Committee; and David Gamba, commissioned by the Yacht Club to represent the Principality.
From 12th to 26th February, 12 crew members will head for the Southern Hemisphere aboard a 22m sailing yacht on one of the most dangerous maritime routes in the world: Drake’s Passage. Supported by 17 countries, the project’s objectives are historic, social and environmental: to pay tribute to all explorers and sailors who risk their lives crossing the Antarctic. And the project equally lists in its objectives increasing the general awareness of the beauty of the Antarctic; it is anything but a world of white desolation with its glistening inlets, gigantic rocky cliffs, pebbled beaches and floating ice sculptures. Encountering huge whales, enormous rookeries of penguins, and stunning landscapes few have ever witnessed will highlight the importance of protecting our planet’s remotest areas.
David Gamba’s main task on board is to ensure navigation respects threatened species. He will be observing cetaceans (including huge whales) in real time in their wild state and identifying and collecting data on them to pass on to scientists. David, who runs the YCM’s year-round whale watching programme of trips into the Pelagos Sanctuary, will bring his experience and knowledge of marine wildlife to the expedition.
The Yacht Club de Monaco will be following the expedition’s progress closely, particularly the YCM’s Sports Section. It has appointed two of its young members, Riccardo Sardi and Paul Maquis, as ambassadors to monitor and have contact with the boat throughout the expedition.
David Gamba and the crew have already set two times for a ‘live’ update with youngsters from the Sports Section on 14th and 21st February. The children will be longing for news of the mascot, PINGI, who has officially agreed to become a member of the crew!
A press briefing on Thursday 15th March at the YCM will report back on the experience – no doubt giving us a flavour of a world of immense scale and visual splendour, magnificent icebergs, king penguin rookeries in the “Galapagos of the Poles,” and the incredible diversity of untamed wildlife.