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British skipper Pip Hare and her sponsors Medallia have confirmed they are the new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2 which Louis Burton sailed to third place on the Vendée Globe which has just finished and which Armel Le Cléac’h sailed to victory in 2016-17 in a record time of 74 days 3 hours. The purchase of this well proven successful IMOCA represents a massive step towards the 2024 Vendée Globe for Hare, 47, who has worked relentlessly to achieve this goal since she finished in 19th place back on 12th February.

Hare, whose inspirational attitude and sheer tenacity made her one of the most popular stories of this ninth edition, raced the 21-year-old former Superbigou, but admits she had already earmarked two boats last October, as her potential ‘next boat’. Now she is determined to take a short rest, learn the boat and up her skill levels to be ready for a full IMOCA season in 2022.

Another key goal achieved for you Pip, it must feel fantastic to know you have every chance to be on the start line in 2021, what is the duration and scope of the programme you have with Medallia?

This is to take me to Vendée Globe 2024. This year I will now take it a little bit slower because it is a massive step up for me and I don’t want to rush things. I want to make sure I am doing things at the right time for me. So we have said we might possibly do the Transat Jacques Vabre, maybe, but the most important thing is that I get myself to be super confident, super comfortable sailing this new boat and then as of 2022 I will be doing the IMOCA Globe Series, I want to try and do some UK offshore events to support the UK circuits a bit, I might be a lone wolf, but I don’t want to have a great boat and then just disappear off to France! A Round Britain record would be fun and it is Round Britain & Ireland race next year, so there are some fun things to do out there as well.

How do you feel about having a new boat, it is another important career step…

Exhausted! I don’t know. When we walked round the dock at the start of the Vendée Globe Leslie (Stretch CEO Medallia) was already saying ‘we might be interested in taking this further. And that was before we had even left the dock. Of course I was looking at which boats would be good. I was never a 2020 and only 2020 girl ever. Of the boats I looked at, the two I said I would be interested in were Maître Coq and Bureau Vallée and Bureau Vallée ended up being the one I wanted most and we got that one. It is a massively capable boat, I just hope I am the massively capable skipper to go with it.

You have a transition period, a good handover stage with Louis (Burton) and Servane (Escoffier, Louis’ wife, business partner and manager)?

Yes they have been massively supportive. In reality they are just across the channel and we are going to be working alongside them as we recommission the boat. And Louis and members of his team will come and do some sailing with me. I am so happy and little bit scared.

And so what is your schedule, when do you take on the boat and when can you start training?

We own the boat now but with the Ocean Race Europe happening we likely won’t get it back in the water until the end of June beginning of July and I will run it out of Poole from the end of July. I will have the training wheels on.

Now you can get some rest?

I have a week next week in France. All of us Vendée Globe girls are going to the French senate and so I have a week in quarantine in Britanny. That is my rest.

And what was it like saying farewell to the old Medallia, the Superbigou, was it a bit sad?

It was and it wasn’t. It was because it was The End, drawing a line under everything but really I had done everything I wanted to with the boat. And because it was The End I was not sad to see it go. We came together to do one thing. Now it is over and it was time to move on, let us say. We had a ‘conscious uncoupling’ as Gwyneth Paltrow would have it.

Have you been sailing at all?

I have missed sailing like crazy. I am jealous of anyone who has been out sailing, the sailing has started again the in the harbour here (Poole) but I have just been too busy to get a ride out with anyone. So I have been a bit jealous of everyone out on the water. By June I will be fully back into it I think and lots of different things. I will do the Quarter Ton Cup and I am looking forwards to that, it is super competitive, it is such different sailing. They guys I sail with Tom Hill on Belinda (1986 Gonzalez design) I have sailed with for a few years and it is good fun, good banter. There is a lot to enjoy. I will be trimming the mainsail.

And your fitness is coming back. You spoke about doing the 3 Peaks Race this year….?

I have been training but I fell over. I keep falling over, I think my body is trying to tell me something! and I fractured two ribs. I literally tripped over a tree root and got another root on my sternum and fractured two ribs. I really, really want to do it but maybe my body is trying to tell me something. But it has been really, really hard. I am such a long way off where I wanted to be. The biggest issue has been my weight loss. I lost so much weight – 9 kilos – and one of the things with rapid weight loss like I had is that when you go back to eating normally your body stores everything and so I am now struggling with being overweight now. That is hard with running and so it will take me a few months.

So really you have been going at 100% since you finished…

When I came back I was determined not to feel the void, the black hole after the race is gone. And so I have been full on. You don’t have time to bask in the glory and it is not terrible because I can still close my yes and remember how amazing it was. It is still is, was, the best thing I have ever done in my life. But it does feel like I have changed so much that it feels like it was someone else who did the race. That just makes me more determined to be back on the race, to have a longer programme, do more sailing and be out there more. That is what I crave.

So everything has been on hold until now?

Now I am so close to it not being on hold and soon I will be able take the foot off the gas and let some other people take the strain a little bit and just have an emotional reset. We are on the verge of the next step. But it is great to know now I will have the chance to operate at the level I want to be at on the next race.

What did you learn about yourself on this last Vendée Globe?

I think I surprised myself where I was in the fleet and how hard I was able to push that boat. I am not scared to push. That was the big unknown for me. Was there a switch in my brain that would not allow me to push hard, that sees risk. I am a lot tougher than I thought I was. I was not frightened about the physical nature of that boat, and that applied over an extended period of time. That was quite a good thing to discover about myself because it really did make be believe 100% I should be continuing. Every step of my career I have said I have to have an honest evaluation of how we did. And if I got to the stage where it is ‘no this is as far as I can go’ then I would have been at one with myself because I had gone as far as I could. I always wanted to go into things with the confidence as I should be there, rather than ever parachuting in, being out of my depth, and then getting out of it.

And so how does this next phase look?

All of this project was about the boat. I put myself last. I had the chance to sail with Paul Larson and that was great for me because my whole career I have not really had the chance to sail with really great sailors that often. What I would like for me career wise, now, is this is my greatest opportunity to develop as a solo sailor and I would really, really like to have more coaching, to join up with some of the French training camps, to sail with different people. Until now I have never felt I was the right calibre for people to want to do that with me. I am still a bit hesitant about who I sail with, but I have much more confidence about being able to hold my own. I am really, really just desperate to learn. I have spent so long teaching and coaching other people, now I want to learn.

Is coaching and teaching good for your own sailing and how you learn?

Yes! 100% coaching is an amazing way to improve your own sailing. My ability to solo sail is in no small way thanks to the likes of corporate sailing at Cowes Week, having a different team every day, having to tell people who have never ever been on a boat how to drop a spinnaker, you are manging risk and breaking things down and communicating what to do all the time, vocalising. I think that makes you look at sailing in a different way.

And with six girls on the last race can we see even more on the next race?

I reckon we will see more girls on the next race. Talking with all the girls recently I think we all want to be back, I was speaking to Miranda and she wants to do it again. And there are more girls out there. I was in Jersey giving a talk recently and there were two ladies came up to me there and just said to me how inspired they have been to improve their own sailing, at their own level. That was really lovely. The interesting thing is everyone kind of assumes it is about inspiring the younger generation but it is not. Sailing is for everyone and there are entry levels at every point, but yes it is great to talk about inspiring the younger generation, but there is a change in the demographic of the mass of people on the water and I think in due course that will make it easier for women at the elite end of the sport.

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When Finnish solo skipper Ari Huusela crossed the finish line of the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe this Friday morning at 08 35 46 hrs UTC in Spring morning sunshine, light winds and mirror-smooth seas to finish in 25th place on the solo non-stop race around the world, it marked the ultimate conclusion of an ocean racing dream which has occupied almost all of his spare time over the last 22 years.

The elapsed time for Huusela is 116 days 18 hours 15 minutes and 46 seconds and he closes the finish line 36 days after winner Yannick Bestaven and Charlie Dalin crossed.

Huusela’s low risk ‘one chance only’ race round the planet has been executed with all the prudent weather routing precision and safeguards that might be expected of a long haul airline pilot who, while competing in his own ocean racing pinnacle event at the age of 58 always wanted to give himself the absolute best chance of finishing the course.

An airline maintenance engineer turned career pilot who has been a keen amateur ocean racer since 1999 when he first raced the Atlantic in a tiny Mini650, Huusela becomes the first skipper from a Nordic nation to start and complete the Vendée Globe.

He may be the last finisher to break the finish line, 25th from a record entry of 33 skippers, but it is doubtful there is a sailor on this race who has taken more pleasure nearly each and every day of his race.

Emotional arrival

A skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety-first approach and his regular, relaxed communication, as the last finisher into the Les Sables d’Olonne channel an emotional Huusela was given a huge welcome back.

Ari Huusela - a skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety first approachAri Huusela - a skipper who has built a huge, respectful following for his safety first approach

“I was crying most of last night, I have been thinking about this for so long. I am so thankful to my team. Without them I would not be here, and to Alex Thomson who was the first one who pushed me and helped me a lot to start the project. And this welcome here today is so touching. To have been to all the starts of this race since 1996 and now to finally have finished today seeing all these people on the sea, in the Channel and now on the land is just amazing, to be able to enjoy it myself. I am so happy Les Sables d’Olonne and the Vendée region arrange this race, and so to see these nice people from Les Sables d’Olonne taking care of us and being out here this morning is just lovely.”

And while he quickly built his reputation as the race’s ‘super happy sailor’ he had tough times too, particularly beating back up the Atlantic ocean in big, confused seas.

“The hardest bit was when the boat was slamming when the sea state was so terrible and confused, the boat was slamming, slamming at the time. I thought the boat would break into pieces. And it was so uncomfortable to be in the boat at that time, that lasted two or three days and I called Niina (his partner and project manager) and I said had reached a point where I hoped the boat would break in two pieces and I could be rescued by a cargo ship, saving me.”

Few setbacks

Both technically and mentally he suffered his biggest setbacks very early on in the race, in the first couple of weeks. But having overcome these minor issues himself, since then Huusela’s two primary modes have been either ‘Happy’ or ‘Super Happy’.

As he closes a Vendée Globe which sees the highest ever number of finishes - 25, seven more than 2016-17’s previous best when 11 of the 29 skippers who started abandoned, Huusela can also reflect that he was in the race almost all of the way round.

Only in the last two weeks of the course did he finally lose contact with his nearest rival when Alexia Barrier escaped out of the zone of high pressure south of the Azores to move several hundred miles ahead of the Finnish skipper, who suffered three frustrating days crawling at sub 5kts speeds and making only around 50 miles a day.

Speaking a few days before his arrival, Huusela confirmed again that his only main goal was always just to finish. Were he to be in last position that was not going to be a concern for him.

“I am not worried at all. I am just super happy to be in the race and to be where I am. When I started the race I would have been happy to do it in 110 days but to me, it doesn’t matter if it is 150 days; that’s fine as long as I do finish. I knew I would be far away from the others. The most important thing is to finish with a solid boat in a good condition.”

Completing the Vendée Globe is the high point of an ocean racing career which really started in the Mini Class at the back end of the 1990s. He completed the 1999 MiniTransat on a Finnish boat designed by Kamu Strahlmann which was previously sailed on the 1997 race.

He placed 13th of 16 finishers, one place behind French skipper Yannick Bestaven. In the intervening years he purchased the Andrew Cape designed former Aberdeen Asset Management which was sailed to 11th in the 2001 race by Sam Davies.

For reasons that he still does not fully comprehend he was not allowed to start the 2003 MiniTransat race – because the organisers said he had not accumulated enough miles on his ‘new boat’. Undaunted he sold the boat on to Isabelle Joschke and helped her start in the class before locating his previous Mini which was in a state of disrepair in a field in Ireland. So he completely refitted the boat and raced the 2007 Mini-Transat on it, finishing 37th.

Seven years later, after a spell sailing F18 catamarans he returned offshore to progress his Vendée Globe dream and took on the solo Route du Rhum on a Pogo 40 in the Rhum class, sailing a steady race to ninth position.

But the Vendée Globe was always his goal and in April 2018 he purchased the Owen Clarke design which had started life as Dee Caffari’s AVIVA for the 2008-9 race and which she also raced on the 2010-11 Barcelona World Race with Anna Corbella.

In the time available to him away from flying Airbus 350s for his job, he prepared his campaign doing the 2018 Route du Rhum to Guadeloupe on which he finished 2018 and the 2019 Transat Jacques Vabre with Mikey Ferguson finishing 26th. His goals were always modest as were his budgets, simply building enough miles and experience towards his Vendée Globe challenge.

In the summer before the start he secured the sponsorship of STARK, one of Finland’s biggest building materials groups. While he was racing their programme won three national sponsorship awards in his native country, where Huusela has become a national hero with a huge following.

When he left the dock for his Vendée Globe on November 8th it was an emotional moment. It was the fifth time he had been to Les Sables d’Olonne for a start and this time he was crossing the line.

In fact he settled into his routine early, even if he felt slightly more nervous than on his ‘normal’ Transatlantic races that he had become used to. His confidence was knocked when he was flattened in the first big frontal system. Followed by an electrical problem – his batteries overcharging from the hydrogenator causing a complete system blackout – Huusela became concerned that his race might be plagued by daily problems.

“At first it was like the Route du Rhum or the MiniTransat or the Transat Jacques Vabre. But I had a bad time in the Doldrums with lots of thunderstorms and rain like I have never seen before, I thought I was going to drown in the rain. And then after that it was annoying to be upwind for the first while I did not like that.” He recalled recently, “Afterwards it was so nice sailing all the way to under South Africa, I really got into it then and enjoyed sailing under my A3, my biggest Code sail. At one point under South Africa we had three boats within a mile, Clement Giraud, Séb Destremau and I, and I took pictures and it was really cool. It was sunny, with beautiful days of easy miles. It was not really like the big south.”

Comfort Zone

He set himself strict wind limits downwind for his routing – 30kts maximum downwind – to minimise the stress on himself and the boat, which he has a significant finance loan on and which he therefore needed to sell in good condition on his return.

“I am sticking to my comfort zone, a slower, longer route but I am always so happy to be here. I feel safe and felt the boat was safe, this is the way I can stay in the race.”

At Cape Leeuwin he stayed north out of a nasty low pressure system which his nearest rival and running mate Alexia Barrier sailed through.

“I just did not want to be in those areas. I enjoyed the stable conditions and easy miles and I was sure I could keep the boat in one piece. The main thing has been finishing the race for me. I don’t think I will ever have the chance to make a big project like this again and so I have to make it to the finish.” He said a few days ago.

His toughest days were the wipeout a few days after the start and when he was obliged to route through a 40-50kts storm to get to Cape Horn.

“The boat was knocked flat and the mast was in the water, I have never experienced that before, so that night was really, really bad, just a few days into the race.” he recalls.

“The heavy downwind coming to Cape Horn was so bad with the waves, I had two wipeouts with the waves, but they were not so bad as the mast did not hit the water, but it was scary.”

In fact at Cape Horn, rather than being very isolated and alone he rounded in close company with Alexia Barrier and Sam Davies – who was completing her Vendée Globe out of the race – and he enjoyed and profited from contact with them, and many other skippers, on the climb up the Atlantic.

“But the worst bits recently have been slamming in the horrible waves in the Atlantic, that has been really bad for me and the boat.” Huusela said just before the Azores.

The final days of his race, spring sunshine and flat seas have been a just reward for Ari Huusela who has become a huge national hero at home in Finland, just as he has become a treasured memory on this Vendée Globe for his seemingly endless good-humoured Christmas advent messages and his daily video reports from the super happy sailor on ‘STARK IMOCA Vendée Globe 2020’…..

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After being forced to abandon her race on 5th December following a collision with a floating object south of Cape Town two days earlier, British skipper Sam Davies sailed back into Les Sables d’Olonne in beautiful spring sunshine to a rapturous welcome this afternoon. Thousands of well wishers turned out to line the quaysides of the famous Les Sables d’Olonne channel to pay tribute to an inspirational, courageous solo round the world passage fulfilling her pledge to complete the Vendée Globe route outside of the race rankings.

After arriving back off the Vendée coast late last night the French-based English skipper took advantage of the time and the perfect conditions to scribe a giant heart shape on the race tracking map with the course of her IMOCA 60 Initiatives Coeur that she sails in the colours of the charitable organisation which raises money to facilitate heart surgery for youngsters from third world countries.

By continuing and completing the out-of-the race circumnavigation Davies maintained the huge public support for the Initiatives Coeur project, her efforts across the whole Vendée Globe circumnavigation project has raised over €1.2m to fund over 100 surgeries.

Considered by many race experts to have had the potential to finish on the podium, the hugely experienced 46-year-old Davies was in great shape when she was forced to abandon. On the night of 2nd December, she was among the leading peloton sailing at over 20 knots when the collision occurred. He IMOCA 60 Initiatives Coeur was stopped instantly by the sudden impact which threw her across the inside of her boat, injuring her ribs.

Sam Davies sailed back into Les Sables d’Olonne in beautiful spring sunshine to a rapturous welcomeSam Davies sailed back into Les Sables d’Olonne in beautiful spring sunshine to a rapturous welcome

Davies dealt with the huge disappointment as best she could. Her perfectly planned and executed four-year campaign was terminated in an instant. But 36 hours later, when speaking in the sunshine in the shadow of Cape Town’s Table Mountain – bravely wearing her typically broad smile - she pledged to return to sea and complete her solo voyage.

“In my head the race was dead I had stopping sailing, I had retired, I already could picture myself at home wearing my little dress ready to pick up our 9-year-old son, Ruben, from school and being back to making food at home.” She told the media in South Africa, “And then after 24 hours had passed in aboard my decompression chamber where I should have been saying to myself 'I'm quitting, I'm retiring'…..well instead of that I changed my mind. I came to my senses."

"It is obvious.” She continued then, “Finishing the course out of the race makes sense. Initiatives-Cœur is a solidarity project. And that's what gives me the strength and the energy to start again."

After round the clock work by her technical team, supported by a posse of local Cape Town ocean racers and boat builders who worked tirelessly to effect the necessary repairs, Davies was back on the water on December 14th ready to take on what has amounts to one of the biggest and toughest personal challenges of her 20 year professional sailing career.

On leaving Cape Town she said, “It is a new adventure. I am not used to sailing solo like this. I am super happy to be able to re-start. The main objective is to continue for Initiatives Coeur that is my main motivation. We have had some much help here and a lot, lot, lot of positive energy and support to send me on my way. I can see where the others are but that is not my objective to catch them, I am not putting myself under pressure to catch anyone.”

Sailing prudently to look after herself and her boat, Davies has profited from the new and different challenge, often saying she has remained motivated through the hard times by the thinking of the work that the project does.

When she returned to the south Indian Ocean she was more than 800 miles behind Sébastien Destremau and Ari Huusela but was in close contact with French skipper Destremau – who had constant technical problems – by the Kerguelen Islands and by Cape Leeuwin was 80 miles from the Finnish skipper Huusela. She sailed most of the Pacific Ocean to Cape Horn close to Alexia Barrier and Huusela, rounding Cape Horn on 25th January.

While passing off the Brasilian coast Davies reconnected with her long time friend and rival Isabelle Joschke who is also returning to the course – like Davies outside of the rankings and rules – after the Franco-German skipper had to abandon due to keel ram failures. The pair stay in close and regular contact, enjoying the safety and solidarity pursuing the same goal together until they arrive back in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Back in the north Atlantic in the NE’ly trade winds Davies lost her forestay and with it her J2 headsail on the 11th February, her quick thinking saving her rig. But her approach is compromised still further and she has to reduce speed at times.

Like Joschke yesterday, Davies returns to Les Sables d’Olonne, having achieved her own personal victory, completing her third round the world passage and for sure laying to rest some of the ghosts of a Vendée Globe disappointment which would doubtless have remained with her for years. And as a sailor who still loves being afloat as much as she every did, she will have profited from her experience.

Before the start she said, “I have always promised myself that if there is one day that I get up and I don't want to go sailing and I am complaining, grumbling and that I am doing it just to make money, I'll stop and do something else. I love sailing so much, I really want it to be always a pleasure.”

Sam Davies and her Vendée Globe

Since taking over the reins of the Initiatives Coeur programme from Tanguy de Lamotte and with it the helm of the 2010 VPLP-Verdier design which was second as Banque Populaire VII in 2012-13 and third as Jéremie Beyou’s Maître-CoQ, Sam Davies has raced on the IMOCA Globe series and in major races with considerable success, thereby underlining her potential on this Vendée Globe.

Fourth in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables, seventh in the Transat Jacques Vabre, Davies was fourth in the Bermudes 1000 race and won the Drheam Cup in 2018. Having accumulated a massive ocean racing experience ever since first racing the Mini Transat 20 years ago, now amounting to more than 25 Transatlantic passages, her fourth in the 2008-9 Vendée Globe and skipper Team SCA to sixth in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2016, saw Davies very firmly established as a sailor with a programme capable of a top result from the 33 strong fleet.

A mechanical engineering graduate of St Johns College Cambridge, Davies is an accomplished, forward thinking technician in her own right and made smart decisions in optimising her boat for herself, not least in her advanced autopilot system, her foils and sail set up.

From a solid start she took a moderate, middle course and at three days into the race was pacing close to Charlie Dalin (APIVIA), alongside Kevin Esscoffier (PRB) and Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS). She was eighth at the passage through the Azores and takes a safe but fast route at Tropical storm Theta. At the Equator she was ninth, alongside Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco).

By the 25th November she is forced to stay to the west of the South Atlantic high pressure system, slightly losing contact with the lead trio who are afforded a more direct downwind passage towards the southern ocean.

But with Louis Burton, Davies is one of the first to gybe directly south to connect first with the train of eastbound low pressure systems and almost immediately profits, gaining miles back on the leaders and closing back at Kevin Escoffier.

It was on the night of the 2nd December that her race was suddenly brought to a premature end. Lying 11th, making some 20kts and some 350 nautical miles SSE of Cape Town she was inside and just starting to eat her dinner when the boat struck something, coming to an immediate halt.

“My speeds were between 15 and 22kts and I was actually just making a hot meal after the gybe and the stack and everything and it was just starting to get dark. I hit something. I did not see anything”

“It was as if I had run aground on a rock at the time. The boatspeed went from 20kts to zero. The boat nosedived on the impact with the keel. I knew it was the keel. I heard a crack coming from there. I and everything else flew forwards, including my dinner which has repainted the entire inside of my boat. Everything moved. I went flying into a ring frame, luckily, because that could have been worse. It was really violent. But luckily I have just hurt some ribs. It is not serious but really painful. But I stopped the boat, dropped the main, and went to check around the keel, the bearings and the bulkhead. The bulkhead, the main bearing bulkheads (which support the keelbox) are intact as far as I can see. The keel bearings are intact. The longitudinal structure around the keelbox is all cracked. That has taken the shock of the impact of when the boat moved, that is cracked on both sides.”

Just before finishing today Davies told the IMOCA class, I love sailing and I love my boat and I thought it would be cool to just cruise around the world. But actually, it was really lonely. Over the past few years I’ve got more and more competitive and I’ve been lucky to have an amazing boat with an amazing team and had really close racing with Boris (Herrmann), Kevin (Escoffier), Isa (Joschke) and all that group who I was with until I had my crash."

Sam Davies’ Press Conference is here

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British solo sailor Sam Davies who retired from the Vendee Globe Race but continued round the world to complete the course will enter the channel back into Les Sables d'Olonne very early this afternoon, around 1215hrs UTC (1315hrs local time) and is expected to get a warm welcome for her remarkable solo round the world achievement which she completed last night. As she waited for daylight and today's tide to fully enjoy the moment Sam Davies had not been idle. In an initiative which is typical of the English skipper, she spent last night scribing a giant heart with the wake of her Initiatives Coeur on the waters off Les Sables d'Olonne.

After being forced to abandon her race on 5th December because of damage caused by a violent collision with a submerged object, Sam restarted out of Cape Town ten days later after repairing her boat and last night completed her solo passage back to Les Sables d'Olonne.

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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.


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


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

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With the arrival of Jeremie Beyou this weekend at the Vendee Globe in Les Sables d'Olonne, the IMOCA Class can now confirm the winner and the top-10 of the 2018-21 IMOCA Globe Series Championship*.

The German skipper Boris Herrmann, who finished in fifth place in the Vendee Globe on Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco, is the new IMOCA Globe Series champion, after a remarkably consistent campaign by his Team Malizia over the last three years.

The championship is calculated by accumulating the scores of skippers and their teams in the major IMOCA Class races, among them the Vendee Globe, the Route du Rhum, the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Bermudes 1000 and the Vendee Arctique.

Herrmann, aged 39 from Hamburg but now based in Lorient, entered all of those races and completed every one. He came out at the head of the championship with Vendee Globe winner Yannick Bestaven (Maitre CoQ IV) second, and Vendee Globe runner-up and line honours winner Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) third.

The German skipper, who is among the very best ambassadors for the IMOCA Class, said the plan for his team going back to 2018 was to aim for the Vendee Globe and to try to put together a competitive entry. That meant doing all the races leading up to the round-the-world race and he said he is delighted to emerge at the end of it as the new champion.

Top 10 of the IMOCA Globe Series 2018-21

  • 1 - Boris Herrmann (GER) - Seaexplorer-YC of Monaco - 526 points
  • 2 - Yannick Bestaven (FRA) - Maître CoQ IV - 517 points
  • 3 - Charlie Dalin (FRA) - APIVIA - 512 points
  • 4 - Thomas Ruyant (FRA) - LinkedOut - 460 points
  • 5 - Jeremie Beyou (FRA) - Charal - 422 points
  • 6 - Damien Seguin (FRA) – Groupe APICIL - 417 points
  • 7 - Louis Burton (FRA) - Bureau Vallee 2 - 415 points
  • 8 - Giancarlo Pedote (ITA) - Prysmian group - 404 points
  • 9 - Clarisse Cremer (FRA) - Banque Populaire X - 370 points
  • 10 - Jean Le Cam (FRA) - Yes We Cam! - 368 points
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Alex Thomson and his crew today arrived back to their home base of Gosport, England having sailed close to 8,000nm from Cape Town onboard the HUGO BOSS boat.

After departing from Cape Town last month - following his retirement from the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race - the British skipper and his crew of three spent close to four weeks at sea, delivering the IMOCA racing yacht safely back to port.

The British ocean racing team will now undertake a routine service of the yacht on the UK's south coast before announcing their plans for 2021 and beyond.

"It's great to be back home. 8,000 miles - I've learned an awful lot, as we always do when we go sailing and I'm looking forward to looking back at that data and doing some analysis" said Thomson.

"For me now, I'll go home and spend some time with my family. HUGO BOSS will come out of the water and go into a service, which shouldn't take long. No major issues to report, apart from a bit of a tidy up of the repair I've done and then we'll be back in the water very soon.

"I know a lot of you have been asking what's next for me and the team. Well, there's a lot to think about. There are a lot of opportunities and I'll be sitting down with my team over the next few weeks to talk about it. So as soon as I know…you'll know!"

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Clarisse Cremer the 31-year-old French skipper of Banque Populaire X should cross the finish line of the Vendée Globe tomorrow during the day to finish in 12th place. For the prodigious skipper who seven years ago had not even sailed her first Mini class race it will be the high point of her rapid rise through the ranks in solo ocean racing, an extreme sailing discipline she chose over a career in business. As she passes the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne she should break Ellen MacArthur’s 20-year-old race record of 94 day and four hours.

Sailing prudently across the Bay of Biscay, moderating her speed in accordance with the strong winds and big seas of another big winter Atlantic depression, she is expected to break the line Wednesday afternoon in five-metre seas.

She said today that she is on high alert, especially as she is approaching the finish on a similar course to that of Germany’s Boris Herrmann who hit a fishing boat at 90 miles from the finish.

“Boris’ story gave me a shock. I will have to be on the lookout until the finish, I have crossed the lanes and they were busy and I just had to slow down at one point to let a cargo ship pass. I can see them on the AIS so that's it is OK just now.”

"It will not be easy to slow down in 30 knots of wind so I think I will be under 3 mainsail reefs only and I will try to accelerate to aim for a finish tomorrow afternoon. It's not easy to predict an exact finish time it's a new exercise! "

Similar big sea and wind conditions are making it tough for Jérémie Beyou approaching the Azores: “The conditions are not at all funny. We have a wind of 35 knots with gusts between 45-50. It's very variable, there are squalls that you don't really see coming and there is a chaotic sea, it is really hot. In addition, we are close to the islands, it is not easy to adjust your course. We had a terrible night, yet we haven't even had the strongest winda yet. The passage first with endless doldrums, the complicated high-pressure ridge afterwards and then this low in the middle of the Azores, it's exhausting. For the finishes, the weather systems are not good either.”

Initially expected Friday night the ETA of the skipper of Charal has slipped to Saturday. To his north, and very slightly behind in the distance to be covered to the line (1,217.8 miles in the 3 pm classification, 19 more than Beyou), Romain Attanasio is experiencing the same weather scenario. They are nursing tired, worn-out bodies and boats and really now just want to be finished.

In the group of six forced west by the break up of the Azores High, the extra miles are painful for Pip Hare whose 21-year-old Medallia lacks power and any kind of creature comforts in the hard reaching conditions.

“Every single forecast I pull in seems to be different. The one I had yesterday showed four days of headwinds. I would be interested to see what this point of sail feels like on a more modern boat but just now it is phenomenally uncomfortable on this boat, I am heeled over so much. It is worse than upwind, it feels less natural. It is a grind physically just trying to exist.” Said Hare this morning while working her way through her back catalogue on 1990s music, top of the playlist today being the hits of The Cure.

The SE’ly trade winds Manuel Cousin (Groupe Sétin) crossed the equator yesterday followed today by Clément Giraud (Compagnie du Lit - Jiliti) and Britain’s Miranda Merron (Campagne de France). Merron returned into the northern hemisphere at 1011hrs UTC this morning, 4hrs 19mins after Clement Giraud and 19hrs and 13 mins after Manu Cousin.

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Day 84 - Bringing the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe to an incredible crescendo eight competitors arrived back in Les Sables d’Olonne within 23 hours and 44 minutes.

With a record entry of 33 boats and an atypical sequence of weather systems which meant the top 10 or 12 boats regrouped and re-started on three main occasions, the race went down to the wire with five boats pitching for the podium places at 36 hours from the finish.

Three skippers carried time compensations, Boris Herrmann, Yannick Bestaven and Jean Le Cam. And it was only on Thursday evening when Le Cam finished that the final rankings were settled. Bestaven with his 10hrs 15mins of allotted time won, Dalin – who crossed the line first was second and Louis Burton third and behind them – finishing over the next 48 hours great sailors without whom the race would not have been so enthralling.

Who could have guessed on 30th November that the search and rescue operation for the skipper of Kevin Escoffier would affect the final outcome? Jean le Cam, Sébastien Simon, Yannick Bestaven and Boris Herrmann went to the aid of Kevin Escoffier, whereas the leaders, Charlie Dalin and Thomas Ruyant were too far ahead to be called on. The redresses awarded by the Jury and the weather patterns meant that it would be a closely fought contest to the finish.

Between Wednesday and Thursday evening the first eight boats finished within 23 hours and 44 minutes, compared to a gap of 19 days and 19 hours back in 2016 between the winner Armel Le Cléac’h and the eighth-placed boat.

Yannick Bestaven became the overall winner of this ninth edition. He impressed with his ability to drive hard, fast and consistently in the south and again on the final sprint with a perfect layline, but also with his sincerity and sportsmanship ashore, when he declared alongside Charlie Dalin,

“There are two winners in this Vendée Globe.”

Dalin the skipper of Apivia took line honours, after leading the fleet for almost half the race, but would end up officially ranked second missing out on overall victory by less than three hours.

The final place on the podium went to Louis Burton, who showed total commitment and determination aboard the boat that won the race in 2016.

The race will also be remembered for the heroic rescue of Kevin Escoffier by Jean Le Cam, who ended up in fourth place when his redress was calculated. At the age of 61, he has lost none of his skills as a competitor. There was a major scare for German skipper, Boris Herrmann a few hours before the finish, when he collided with a fishing vessel. Shortly before the incident, he had still been in contention for overall victory after a consistent and steady race, which saw him permanently up with the frontrunners. To suffer what he did after such a beautifully executed programmed race once again showed the cruel side of the Vendée Globe.

In sixth place, Thomas Ruyant was the loser in the rankings, as this position does not really reflect his performance out on the water. The skipper of LinkedOut spent two-thirds of the race in the top three, in spite of breaking his foil before entering the Indian Ocean. The disappointment will be difficult for him to overcome, particularly after the strength of the performance of the skipper from Northern France, who certainly left his mark on this ninth edition.

The two times Paralympic champion Damien Seguin took seventh place and impressed everyone adding another line to his list of achievements. Born with just one hand, he wanted to prove that everyone should attempt to make their dreams come true. Finishing in eighth position, Italian skipper and former philosophy lecturer, Giancarlo Pedote now based in Lorient, Brittany, achieved the best performance ever for an Italian in the Vendée Globe and was able to express his competitive edge throughout the race.

Finally, local hero, Benjamin Dutreux returned home on Friday morning to finish ninth, less than 24 hours after the arrival of the first boat in this exceptional ninth edition, and today Maxime Sorel brought V and B Mayenne home in tenth, a 2007 build boat which started twice previously but only finally completed the full Vendée Globe course non stop for the first time today.

Finishing just before 5am this morning 2 days, 10 hours, 45 minutes and 29 seconds after Yannick Bestaven’s corrected time, Maxime Sorel (V and B - Mayenne) took 10th place in this Vendée Globe. Four years ago, the 10th place was Arnaud Boissières, who arrived 32 days after the winner, Armel Le Cléac’h. Of course, the 2016-2017 edition was exceptionally fast at the top of the fleet but eight years ago, Tanguy de Lamotte was also 10th and took 20 days longer than François Gabart, and that Raphaël Dinelli needed 41 more days than Michel Desjoyeaux in 2008-2009.

That V and B – Mayenne completed a non-stop lap is finally a comfort to previous owners perhaps. Launched one day in September 2007 not with champagne but with milk the sponsors were Groupe Bel. But the cow did not laugh often. Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel) retired at the same time as Bestaven did – hours into the 2008 race dismasted in a Biscay storm. And in 2010 it made it to just west of Cape Horn in the Barcelona World Race when the keel bearings failed and De Pavant and Seb Audigane had to retire. And it was the boat which Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord) nearly lost in 2016 after hit an object near New Zealand.

But Sorel still had problems with the boat – returning to Les Sables d’Olonne today he revealed a big composite repair he had made to the deck of the boat which was bult as a close sistership to PRB.

He outran a Biscay storm to make it home safely, reporting to his Press Conference this afternoon:

"The last 72 hours, it was a race against the clock. I made the decision on my own to go through this depression. The Race Direction warned me that it was bad, that there was going to be a lot wind and sea, that it was going to be difficult to cross the line and join the channel. There were a lot of things that made me want to wait, but I saw that it was passing, I wanted to finish too. I put all the things on the table, and I was like "I'm going" ... and here I am. I pushed to the end, I was above my routings. I 'was 105% of my polar! Unfortunately, I couldn't see what I went through. I didn't have time to think about my race.

The V and B - Mayenne deck cracked

“It's true that at the time of the PRB sinking, I had that in my head. My boat is almost identical, PRB being a little lighter. And my boat had big problems in the last Vendée Globe 2016 Obviously I had that in my head and I couldn't attack when I wanted in the deep south. Maybe if I had attacked more I wouldn't be here today. When the deck cracked and I had to fix it, I did not really show it. And when I made the decision to pass ahead of the front I had to go hard to get home. If it ever broke I was close to land so it was fine."

The civil and marine structures engineer Sorel admitted: “I knew when I left that I had an important mission: to finish. But finishing this Vendée Globe with this boat, which had quite a few setbacks in other races, is great. I inspected the boat a lot of times, my team helped me do it, we kept a spreadsheet to see what we had to check. Then one time I noticed a small crack in the paint, really tiny. And in fact, I pass my finger over it and there was a dip. I immediately alerted my technical team who contacted the architects. They said directly "You have to open it up the first skin is broken, the foam too". Major surgery had to be done to prevent the crack from spreading to the deck!

"When I found out what happened on PRB, it was hard to go through at sea. The race comes to a standstill because you know there is a guy all alone on a raft. We pushed less after that. It was a hard moment, at the start of the Great South, I dreamed of huge waves and long surfs. I did not want to plant the bow at 25 knots."

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“There are two winners in this Vendée Globe” smiled Yannick Bestaven sportingly as he warmly greeted Charlie Dalin, the French skipper who hours earlier had broken the finish line of the solo round the world race in first place.

Granted a 10 hrs 15 mins time allowance for his role in the search and rescue of Kevin Escoffier, Bestaven displaced the pre-race favourite Dalin to win the Vendée Globe by 2hrs 31secs, the narrowest margin ever in the history of the race, earned by the oldest ever winner.

“I am happy to have finished the race in the lead. The English talk about Line ‘Honours’ and I am happy with that.” Dalin, 36, said in his press conference. “What I’m going to remember is that I was first over the line – no one can take it away from me. It’s normal for boats that stop to help others to have time compensation and that’s out of my control. But whatever the outcome I’m here in front of you now and I’m happy that I’ve done a good job.”

To another man, among the top skippers, there was neither a gripe nor a groan about the time allowances made by the international jury.

“For me the matter is closed and I won’t be talking about it again. A human life was saved. End of story.” said Louis Burton who slipped from second across the finish to third.

And one of the most heartwarming exchanges was on the gangway to the ponton d’honneur when Escoffier greeted and thanked Bestaven. The two sailors embraced for 30 seconds, the unspoken message being that roles might as easily have been reversed.

But, recalling the time he spent searching for Escoffier in the dark of night 650 miles south of Cape Town, Bestaven recalled,

“It was a nightmare, standing on the deck all night looking for someone. I really thought we might not find him.”

Germany’s Boris Herrmann, who was involved in the search too and was allocated six hours, still managed to bring Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco across the finish line despite damage to his boat sustained from a cruel collision with a fishing boat. The incident happened at 1926hrs CET Wednesday night while Herrmann was 90 miles from the finish and on course for a podium place.

When he reached the finish line in fifth place, his starboard foil slightly crumpled, the side of his hull badly scored and standing rigging damaged, Herrmann’s mood was equal measures of relief and contentment to have completed his race.

“I am happy with the result, definitely," remarked Herrmann.

Jean Le Cam is due to finish this evening. With his 16hrs 15mins of time allowance if Le Cam passes the line before 20:34hrs UTC he will take fourth from Herrmann and if he passes only before 20:57hrs he will displace Thomas Ruyant (Linked Out) from fourth.

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