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Pip Hare First British Skipper to Finish the Vendée Globe, Crossing the Line in 19th Place

12th February 2021
alt="Pip Hare finishes the Vendee Globe" title="Pip Hare" />
Pip Hare finishes the Vendee Globe. Hare is the first British skipper to finish the 2020-21 race, and only the eighth women ever to finish the Vendée Globe in its history

British solo skipper Pip Hare, 47, fulfilled the dream that she has held since she was a teenage sailor in her native East Anglia, England when she crossed the finish line of the Vendée Globe solo non-stop round the world race at 00:57:30 hrs UTC on the 12th February, emerging from a bitterly cold Bay of Biscay night off Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France to take an excellent 19th place.

After 95 days, 11 hours, 37 mins and 30 seconds of racing, Hare is the first British skipper to finish the 2020-21 race, and only the eighth women ever to finish the Vendée Globe in its history. Her performance on a 21-year-old IMOCA, the oldest boat yet to finish this edition, has drawn admiration from all corners of the world of French and international ocean racing, not just for her high level of motivation and drive throughout the race but for her intelligent, efficient courses and her ability to push her elderly but evergreen boat hard all the way to the finish line.

Pip Hare Vendee Globe Finish Photo Gallery by Richard Langdon / Ocean Images

She has illuminated every aspect of her Vendée Globe, demystifying solo ocean racing with her colourful and comprehensive daily reports and her cheerful, super positive video messages. Her global following has grown exponentially not least in the race’s ancestral home, France, where her eternally sunny disposition and megawatt smile transcend any language barrier.

“She is a ray of sunshine, what she is doing in incredible,” is how veteran French ocean racer Jean Le Cam, who finished fourth in this race, described Hare, while Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm, who built Hare’s boat over 20 years ago, described her as “my hero”.

Her race was not without drama, and she overcame a significant technical problem in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Replacing one of her rudders in big seas and 25knots of wind allowed her to stay in the race and to still remain close to a group of four faster rivals, all sailing a newer generation of foiling boats, which she had worked hard to pass. Even today just over one month on from her rudder damage, Hare was still pushing to close every last mile on the pack ahead of her and was less than 50 miles from 18th placed Stéphane Le Diraison at the line, having pulled back more than 100 miles in the final 36 hours.

Her performance is all the more remarkable considering her first IMOCA class race was in August 2019 with the Rolex Fastnet Race. Her performance merits comparison with Dame Ellen MacArthur whose 94 days and 4-hour time from the 2000-2001 race was one of Hare’s benchmarks on a boat built in the same year and launched in the same month as MacArthur’s.

So too Hare’s enduring passion mirrors that of the English racer MacArthur who finished runner up in the 2001 Vendée Globe, both living in a variety of portacabins, small boats and vans when their hand-to-mouth budgets denied them the living standards of their rivals in their formative years.

Hare grew up in a typical sailing family in East Anglia, benefiting from a Swallows and Amazons lifestyle of dinghy sailing and cruising with her extended family on a wooden Folkboat and then a Moody 33 on which they sailed often with her grandparents to Holland’s Ijsselmeer. She became a sailing instructor and then professional sailing coach and journalist. While she only took the plunge into solo racing with the OSTAR race to Newport RI in 2009, the Lightwave 395 racer cruiser she raced across the Atlantic was her home for 13 years and she sailed tens of thousands of miles as far as Patagonia and Uruguay before sailing the boat home solo across the Atlantic.

And although she has proven her ability to endure and always push to new limits on her first time in the Southern Oceans, Hare is pragmatic, prudent and largely risk averse. Certainly, although her initial budget to do this Vendée Globe was minimal, supported through crowd funding and her home port of Poole, she was always adamant that she would not go forwards into the race without the financial means to pay her costs. Her biggest decision was to charter the proven Superbgiou for the race, even if she was initially reliant on friends and favours to augment doing all the boatwork herself.

But in May last year a white knight sponsor appeared in the shape of Silicon Valley customer experience management system company Medallia. Their immediate input allowed Hare to fit a pedestal winch system and update the sail inventory of the IMOCA re-named Medallia.

The Vendée Globe of Pip Hare

After admitting to pre-start nerves, Pip Hare started the Vendée Globe as she meant to go on, pushing hard even if at first, she was not so happy with her initial weather strategies. But between the Azores and the Canary Islands she found a good route to the east and was able to keep pace with some of the faster boats in front. At the Canary Islands she was 22nd of the 33 starters and 16 miles ahead of Arnaud Boissières pushing through the western fringes of tropical storm Theta, chasing Isabelle Joschke and close to Spanish sailor Didac Costa, who is racing Ellen MacArthur’s former boat on his second consecutive Vendée Globe, and who was a long-standing close rival when they both raced Mini 650s

But Hare had a painful Doldrums crossing, and she lost miles to the boats in front, a deficit which was then compounded in the reaching conditions in the SE’ly trades which were tough for her older less powerful machine against the newer boats.

At the gateway to the south passing Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha, she was over 600 miles behind Alan Roura and 500 miles from Stéphane le Diraison. Under the Cape of Good Hope that duo were slowed in high pressure and Pip and Didac caught back miles. She then pushed harder and increasingly fast along the AEZ in the Indian Ocean to get up to 19th, but all the time just a few miles apart from Costa. And by the Kerguelens she and Costa had caught all the way back up to Boissieres and Le Diraison again.

She lost one of her hydrogenators on November 29th and that meant keeping all her diesel reserves for power generation, meaning no heating and so she had to ride out the discomfort of being wet cold and damp in the south.

Her most annoying performance setback came on January 2nd when her wind sensor failed. The cups stopped rotating and the boat crash gybed as the information being sent to the autopilot stopped. Having lost her second wand during the first big front a few days after the start, this became a major issue as she could no longer have the pilot steer on wind mode and had no accurate wind information. Indeed, in the big winds that followed she compared notes with Alan Roura and with Boissieres. This situation left her almost always on a high state of alert, from there on the sharpness of her attack was definitely dulled.

“But I put on my big girl pants on and went looking for a solution,” Hare memorably wrote.

Staying further south under east Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand paid handsomely for Pip and she was still keeping pace with Boissieres and managed to open up many miles on Costa. At Point Nemo she posted her best ranking at 15th and remarkably was ahead of the foilers raced by Roura, Boissieres and Le Diraison, leading the group of group of six that went on to fight it out to the very end.

It was here that she encountered her most significant problem, and on January 7th at some 1,000 miles to Cape Horn, she discovered a crack in the port rudder stock. Fortunately, she was not only carrying a newly made spare rudder, but she and her team had practised a replacement procedure. A weather window – a relative term for the southern Pacific - appeared and she was able to replace the rudder and get back under way having lost two places.

After her rudder problem she was 17th at Cape Horn and in the South Atlantic she had to slow to laminate a repair to reseal the rudder tube which was letting in significant amounts of water. She lost some miles to Roura and co., but still managed to gain on the Catalan sailor Costa.

Climbing the Atlantic she was once more very much punching above her weight and worked hard to stay with this group, even given her lack of horsepower in the hard reaching trade wind conditions. Predictably, she lost two places to the new generation foilers raced by Jérémie Beyou and Kojiro Shiraishi.

She and the group ended up with a detour of over 800 miles because of the position of the Azores high pressure which forced them west on a roundabout route but she stayed in touch and until the very last night, and was still pulling back miles on the foiling boats just in front before finishing 19th today.

THE STATS OF PIP HARE'S RACE

She covered the 24,365 miles of the theoretical course at an average speed of 10.63 knots.

Distance actually travelled on the water: 27,976.87 miles at 12.21 knots of average speed

THE GREAT PASSAGES

Equator (outward)
20th on 23/11/2020 at 12:48 UTC, 4 days, 22 hours and 59 minutes behidn the leader

Cape of Good Hope
17th on 6/12/2020 at 16:48 UTC, 5 days, 17 hours and 37 minutes behind the leader

Cape Leeuwin
17th on the 18/12/2020 at 07:30 UTC, 8 days 20 hours and 4 minutes behind the leader

Cape Horn
18th on 6/01/2021 at 01:56 UTC, 9 days, 13 hours and 12 minutes after the leader

Equator (back)
20th on 28/01/2021 at 05h43 UTC, 11 days 10 hours 31 minutes after the leader

Her boat
Architect: Pierre Rolland
Builders: 1999, Bernard STAMM, Lesconil
Launched: July 2000

Published in Vendee Globe
Afloat.ie Team

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The 2020/2021 Vendée Globe Race

A record-sized fleet of 33 skippers will start the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe: the 24,296 nautical miles solo non-stop round-the-world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on Sunday, November 8 at 1302hrs French time/1202hrs TU and will be expected back in mid-January 2021.

Vendée Globe Race FAQs

Six women (Alexia Barrier, Clarisse Cremer, Isabelle Joschke, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron, Pip Hare).

Nine nations (France, Germany, Japan, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Great Britain)

After much speculation following Galway man Enda O’Coineen’s 2016 race debut for Ireland, there were as many as four campaigns proposed at one point, but unfortunately, none have reached the start line.

The Vendée Globe is a sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance. It takes place every four years and it is regarded as the Everest of sailing. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968.

The record to beat is Armel Le Cléac’h 74 days 3h 35 minutes 46s set in 2017. Some pundits are saying the boats could beat a sub-60 day time.

The number of theoretical miles to cover is 24,296 miles (45,000 km).

The IMOCA 60 ("Open 60"), is a development class monohull sailing yacht run by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The class pinnacle events are single or two-person ocean races, such as the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe.

Zero past winners are competing but two podiums 2017: Alex Thomson second, Jérémie Beyou third. It is also the fifth participation for Jean Le Cam and Alex Thomson, fourth for Arnaud Boissières and Jérémie Beyou.

The youngest on this ninth edition of the race is Alan Roura, 27 years old.

The oldest on this ninth edition is Jean Le Cam, 61 years old.

Over half the fleet are debutantes, totalling 18 first-timers.

The start procedure begins 8 minutes before the gun fires with the warning signal. At 4 minutes before, for the preparatory signal, the skipper must be alone on board, follow the countdown and take the line at the start signal at 13:02hrs local time. If an IMOCA crosses the line too early, it incurs a penalty of 5 hours which they will have to complete on the course before the latitude 38 ° 40 N (just north of Lisbon latitude). For safety reasons, there is no opportunity to turn back and recross the line. A competitor who has not crossed the starting line 60 minutes after the signal will be considered as not starting. They will have to wait until a time indicated by the race committee to start again. No departure will be given after November 18, 2020, at 1:02 p.m when the line closes.

The first boat could be home in sixty days. Expect the leaders from January 7th 2021 but to beat the 2017 race record they need to finish by January 19 2021.

Today, building a brand new IMOCA generally costs between 4.2 and €4.7million, without the sails but second-hand boats that are in short supply can be got for around €1m.

©Afloat 2020

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