From 12th to 26th February, 12 crew members, including David Gamba from the Yacht Club of Monaco, will head for the Southern Hemisphere aboard a 22m sailing yacht, “Santa Maria Australis”, on one of the most dangerous maritime routes in the world: Drake’s Passage. Drakes Passage is a large arm of the sea between the extreme south of Chile on the South American land mass and reaches to Antarctica. Many brave explorers have met their fate in these waters.
Antarctica: the great white continent and one of the remotest and wildest areas on earth, as vast as China and India combined – 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 presentation to raise awareness of this extraordinary mission, of which it is a partner, just prior to its departure – it is a very brave expedition with the appropriate title Antarctic Blanc.
Johen Werne, cofounder of GOST (Global Offshore Sailing Team) which is behind the project, leads the expedition of the 12 mariners who, no matter their country of origin, will bond together for one sole purpose – to make this expedition a success. Dr Benon Z. Janos, Meteorology Officer and Environmental Initiatives Coordinator emphasizes the importance of the project “Clean Seas” to combat the throwing of plastic waste into the oceans. And there will be important research on plankton as part of the expedition the objective of which is to shed light on climate change and biodiversity. The University of Connecticut and Northeastern University of Boston are welcome collaborators in this research. Bernard d’Alessandri, YCM General Secretary is reported in the French press as highlighting the goal of transmitting the heritage, knowledge and awareness of Antarctica and its expeditions to the new young generation. In particular, he mentioned David Gamba, commissioned by the Yacht Club to represent the Principality. Mr Ziegenfeuter, representing the Club’s Board Committee demonstrated his approval.
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.