Pip Hare first British skipper to finish the Vendée Globe

12th February 2021

 

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 today, emerging from a bitterly cold Bay of Biscay night off Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France to take 19th place. Well done Pip!

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 woman ever to finish the Vendée Globe.

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.

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, likely due to her eternally sunny disposition and megawatt smile which 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.

Hare’s enduring passion also 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 boat work herself.

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