Pip Hare has been one of the standout stories from this years edition of the Vendée Globe. Now, as she sails up the Atlantic, the British sailor takes some time to answer Yachting World reader questions.
Direct from the middle of the Atlantic, Vendée Globe competitor, Pip Hare, exclusively answers questions by Yachting World readers on what it’s really like sailing the challenge of a lifetime…
Q: From Gareth Webb
Do you think the Mini 6.5m sailing was key in preparing you for this challenge? And are you tempted to go mast climbing and have a look at possibly fixing that wind sensor? Thank you for bringing the race into our homes in such a genuine and personal way. Go Pip!
Pip Hare: Mini sailing was definitely the platform I’ve used to get experience as a solo sailor in a fiercely competitive, but achievable and friendly race.
I tried to avoid going up the mast to fix the wind sensor – but I did it the other day after doing every other job on the list, and having good conditions, I couldn’t avoid it any more.
Q: From Helen Shrewsbury
You are a fabulous communicator and have really brought the race alive for us.
How much time each day are you spending writing/being interviewed/filming and does it sometimes become an unnecessary distraction from sailing?
Pip Hare: Thank you Helen. It does take time and effort to share the race story and I have been trying to produce the most interesting content possible rather than the bare minimum so it can take me a few hours a day to set up, film and the edit a short video.
It’s a question of finding opportunities and maintaining a balance. I send content when I want to. All the skippers have a minimum quota of media we must supply under race rules but after that it is up to us.
My performance within this race is very important to me, I set out to race as hard as I could with the boat that I had, so if I am having a tough day or I know I need to put my energy into racing not media then I will pare down what I do.
Telling the story is important for growth of the sport, it provides a great return for our sponsors, engages more fans and hopefully will inspire the competitors of the future. I take it seriously but I will not let it get in the way of giving my all on the race track.
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Q: From Mervyn Wright
It’s a phenomenal achievement for anyone. Do you think you’d do it again or is it a once in a lifetime experience?
Pip Hare: My goal has always been for two Vendées. I think until I had sailed the race, experienced the Southern Ocean alone, understood all the problems that can be encountered on the way, then it would be difficult for me to put in the kind of performance I aspire to.
2020 was a question of just making it happen, forcing a campaign into existence and not being fussy about what I had. I just wanted to get out here, experience the race and show potential sponsors that I was worth backing.
My performance in this race has been such a happy surprise. I never considered that with just 4500 miles to go I would be in the same stretch of water as the tail end foilers, let alone ahead of them in the Southern Ocean.
This performance has validated my goal to be back in 2024 with a foiling boat and looking at the top ten.
Q: From Stuart Rowe
Given your experiences so far (both on and off the water), what’s the most important lesson, you’ll take forward into the 2024 race?
Pip Hare: Preparation and time on the water are essential. In a way I think I benefited from being a one woman show in 2019. I sailed the boat everywhere myself. That gave me a lot of miles with this boat. I fixed it and maintained it myself and nurtured it through races, on minimal budget and always concerned about breakages and failure.
This in-depth knowledge and feeling for the boat are what allowed me to both push hard and to tackle the breakages and problems I have had onboard.
I want to take this ethos forward to my next boat and I want to make sure I have enough time to sail it hard and get to know it in the same way.
Q: From Kate Oppenheim
What has surprised you most? When you’ve finished the race, what will you miss the most?
Pip Hare: Just how much I’ve loved every minute of this race.
Yes, there have been tough times, but the whole experience has been better than I ever dreamed it could be. I’m still pinching myself that I’m here, doing the Vendee Globe, let alone that I’m on the homeward leg.
When I have finished I will miss the focus and the purpose and I will miss the ocean as my home.
Q: From Janine Farmer
What has been the biggest lesson?
Pip Hare: I think there are a couple. First and foremost the need to be proactively diligent around all things. If something is not quite right, if you are a bit off the pace, if there is a funny sound, if the sky looks ominous, then you have to act.
This is a tough race and the self discipline required for good performance is everything.
Secondly how long it takes to recover from a ‘big’ event. I tend to treat myself mentally and physically like a machine. I don’t give myself much slack and just expect to plod on regardless.
There was a definite energy debt to pay after I had changed my rudder. I was physically and emotionally drained and I did not realise how long it would take me to get back on form. Now I know I would play the whole ten days following my rudder change in a completely different way.
Q: From Adrian Geary
Now you are deep into the race, what do you think about the foilers now, and in big weather?
Pip Hare: It’s been really interesting to watch the foilers in the south on this race. There is no doubt that the reason I got ahead of Cali, Stephane and Alan was because I was willing and able to push Medallia harder in the big breeze and indeed to go in search of more breeze as they had to back off.
At the front of the fleet I know they have spent quite a bit of time backed off as well. But although there are marked non-foiling performances, it [is] foilers on the podium. I would like my next IMOCA to have foils.
Q: From Laura La Roche
What do you do to lift your spirits when it gets really tough onboard?
Pip Hare: I talk to my friends and family back home and they always help me to look at the bigger picture – I might be having a tough time, but I’m having a tough time on the Vendée Globe race and there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
Hearing news from home always brings a smile to my face. It’s interesting, I rarely want to tell my friends how I am, I just love to hear their news. Without fail once a day someone has sent me a funny or irreverent message that has made me laugh out loud.
I have one couple of friends who have sent me a different memory from our very long friendship every day of the race.
Music also is my tonic. It never fails to lift my mood.
Q: From Mike MaunderWhat’s been your favourite meal whilst sailing the Vendee?
Pip Hare: Apples. At the start I loaded up with as many fresh apples as I could and enjoyed them while they lasted.
Three months at sea with no stops means you don’t get any fresh food. And tea – my race is definitely fuelled by tea.
Yachting World would like to thank Pip for taking the time to answer our readers’ questions mid-race! We’re rooting for you all the way home. Enjoy the last Atlantic miles!
For more Vendée Globe updates like this, read Pip’s blog at: piphare.com/blog or follow Pip on Instagram and Facebook.