Pip Hare, “I would like to be closer to Giancarlo Pedote, to Damien Seguin and to Isabelle Joschke. If I could be close to them I would be super happy."
Her US based sponsors Medallia loved the way she told her story and her gritty performance and before the race had even finished had committed to continue. Now equipped with the boat which won the 2016-17 race as Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire and just finished third as Louis Burton’s Bureau Vallée, Hare is armed with a good, proven foiling boat which she is getting to grips with an progressively finding the gears in all the different wind and sea conditions.
Last month’s Guyader Bermudes 1000 proved something of a disappointing first race with her new boat, finishing 17th on a 1300 miles course which had a lot of upwind racing, not the strongest suit on a Vendée Globe optimised design.
Hare has been upbeat during the preparatory, build up week in the summer sunshine of Les Sables d’Olonne ready to take on a new adventure and learn all she can.
“I am feeling a lot better than I thought I would.” Hare smiled this week on the Port Olona dock, “I have drawn a line under the Bermudes 1000 race. I don’t actually think my own expectations were too high, but maybe others expectations weighed on me a bit.”
She affirms, “But the thing is I am me. I have only got my journey behind me. I have come from where I have. I don’t have an elite sailing background.I am working as hard as I can to step up to the level of this boat and working with some great people but I am where I am. My success in this race is not going to be determined by where I finish in the rankings but how I sail the boat, which decisions I make, how I improve during the race. And most of all I just want to enjoy it because this is what I love doing.”
She spent a period training in the Atlantic out of Cascais working with coaches Jack Bouttell and Ben Schwarz, “Working with coaches has been very beneficial, with Jack Bouttell and Ben Schwarz. We will start doing a lot more data analysis after this. But of course numbers are a base line for us and we need to adapt them to my style of sailing. I have numbers I can route with but I have to work to be more accurate for the boat.”
And as far as her hopes and expectations go for this race she is trying to be objective but at the same time knows what her target is..
“ On paper this is the mid fleet boat. It has small foils and it is now two generations old. And I think probably I am mid fleet. I think this boat is a good boat for learning. I would like to be closer to Giancarlo Pedote, to Damien Seguin and to Isabelle Joschke. If I could be close to them I would be super happy.”
Disappointment and slightly disillusioned after that last race she sought out Isabelle Joschke who gave her sage advice which the British skipper has taken firmly on board,
“ I had a great conversation with Isabel. And it really kind of gave me permission to let go of all the angst that I had after the Bermudes 1000. I felt like I was missing something. I thought ‘I am not doing this right’ I found it so very challenging physically it was hard to comprehend. We had that 800 miles beat back to the finish and that meant tacking twice a day. And that is not just half an hour of flat out work it is half an hour of risk, half an hour of exhaustion. I thought ‘how can everyone else be doing this and I am struggling?’ and so I managed to hunt down Isabel. I said how do you manage stacking the sails…and she said ‘I don’t. You just do what you can and what works for you.’ The thing is I have been trained to the idea of perfection from Class 40 and sailing fully crewed and then there is no compromise. For one person that can be just too physically demanding. Isabel said you just have to sail to the style that works for you. You are not a guy. You are not sailing fully crewed. You are a woman sailing an IMOCA on your own. And so she tailors her style and tactics to what she knows she is physically able to do and then takes the hit on performance some times. Just speaking to her who has been successful has been so useful. Things I would have considered to be cutting corners are now about sailing to your strengths and weaknesses. It is sailing with your head. That is what I did well on the Vendée. I know I am good at that, sailing with my head. But put me in a pack of boats and I am losing that confidence.”
This could be a course which suits her style and approach to racing,
“ There will be a challenging, physical race with lots of transitions. The answer for me is to get our of here away from the start using maximum brain, minimum brawn. And then if we can get a decent reach to the north that is when I can put my foot down. Coming up to the Fastnet on that last race on that reach I was taking boats and was watching the speed of the other boats with foils like mine and I am as fast when we are reaching. It is the transitions and the other things I have to work on.
Getting out of here will be tricky as it always will be. The north Atlantic is a tricky place to be but being cold and wet is like sailing in the UK and so I should be decent at it. Fixing up the heater is low priority at the moment and I certainly don’t want it to be too warm below anyway as it’ll be hard to come out! But, just grin and bear it it’ll be fine. It’s only two weeks.
It has been great to be here with the other skippers. We really feel part of something big here. We are proud to be a British team based in the UK but when we are here you feel part of something big.”