British sailor Pip Hare has unveiled her bid to compete in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race for a second time and said she hopes she can be “more competitive”.
The 48-year-old caught the public’s imagination when she completed the 2020/21 race – one of the toughest on the sailing calendar – before returning to a hero’s welcome in Poole, Dorset.
She even received a message from Hollywood actor Russell Crowe on her birthday during the race, which she completed in 95 days, 11 hours and 37 minutes while competing in the event’s second oldest boat.
Now the yachtswoman, only the eighth woman to complete the race, has been equipped with a new racing yacht – the Imoca 60 Medallia – which she is about to push to its limits in the Vendee Arctic.
The two-week qualifier for the round-the-world race sets off from Les Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendee region of France on June 12 before going round Iceland and returning to France.
Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: “I finished the Vendee 2020/21 last year and it was incredible – it was the best three years in my life, I loved the competition.
“I loved being in the Southern Ocean and challenging myself. I’m really looking forward to the next one, but I want it to be a lot more competitive.”
Describing her new boat, which is based at Poole, she said: “The Imoca Open 60 is designed for the ocean. It does speeds in excess of 35mph, it has little wings which helps it fly out of the water, and it is the most incredible boat to sail.
“It is fast and powerful; it’s not just a quick burst of speed, it’s this constant speed, and the whole boat feels alive.
“You make one tiny adjustment and it kind of sits up and goes, and I just love the power and the fact that a small human being like me can control a boat with 400 square metres of sail.”
She added: “We are in the process of making the boat strong and fast. I have got a couple more days of sail training so I am sure I know how I can get the most out of the boat, and, because it’s going to be two weeks of solid racing on my own, the most important thing before the race is that I’m well rested.”
Explaining how she handles the pressures of solo sailing in some of the world’s most demanding maritime environments, she said: “It takes a lot of organisation. You have to be super-cool and try to stay at least one or two places ahead of what is going to happen, and then if something unexpected happens the trick is to calm everything down, think about it and behave methodically
“The boat is so powerful – one little person isn’t going to sort it out with a quick pull of the arm. It is a case of getting used to the speed because it’s such a fast boat and think that far ahead.
“The thing I find scariest is climbing the mast. Sometimes we have to do repairs at the top of the mast 30m up in the air, and the boat is still sailing, and psychologically, for me, that is terrifying.
“In the last Vendee Globe race I had to replace the rudder in the middle of the Southern Ocean, which was quite a big mechanical job to make up on your own.”
She added: “One of the things I love about this sport is that it challenges you in every way imaginable.
“It challenges you physically, mentally, emotionally; there are loads of hard and soft skills but you need to constantly push yourself to the edge of risk but no further than risk so you don’t damage the boat.
“And if the boat does happen to get damaged, you have to sort it all out yourself on a moving platform on your own in the cold, wet and dark normally.
“I don’t get scared; the things that scare me are the things I haven’t experienced before, so once I’ve experienced something and know what to expect it doesn’t scare me.
“I am dealing with different levels of anxiety all the time. I worry about things all the time, so how much I am worrying depends on what conditions I am in.”
– The 10th Vendee Globe race is scheduled to start on November 10 2024.