Broken rudder, jellyfish sting add to 'best three months' of Pip's life

·4-min read

In 95 days sailing solo round the world, Englishwoman Pip Hare somehow touched a lot of people.

As she approached the Vendee Globe finish line in her boat Medallia the early hours of Friday, Hare found out she was no longer on her own.

"I was alone in this pitch-black night and then I turned around and there was this armada of lights just appeared from nowhere," she said.

As she docked, after finishing 19th in the non-stop round-the world-race in a boat built in the last century, Hare blasted Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' blasting from the speakers.

Hare came to solo sailing at the relatively late age of 35. She had read about the Vendee Globe in a magazine.

"Sailing around the world single-handed without stopovers seemed to me to be the hardest thing to do in life. And there were women who did this race, not just men. Exactly the same way, with equal respect," she said. "That's what I really wanted to do."

Because of her limited budget she bought a boat made in 1999. It was the oldest in the race and was competing against state-of-the-art boats with hydrofoils.

"I started with nothing in January 2019, really nothing. I started with a personal loan from the bank," she said.

As she battled round the globe, Hare posted frequent videos on social media.

"For me it's been about sharing what I love with my friends and family in a way they can relate to," she said.

But, she said on Friday, she had no idea of the impact her posts were having outside her immediate circle.

"I never engaged with the internet or social media whilst on the boat, I was always on the output, so I never really knew where it was going."

Hare faced severe tests. She had to repair her rudder at sea, lost her wind gauge and suffered a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting.

"I was really very ill," she said.

Even in the toughest conditions, she finished her on-line posts with the smile that became her trademark.

"I think maybe it is the Pip that comes with something that I am so passionate about and felt so lucky to be doing and have done. I was so happy. It was the best three months of my life."

She drew fans around the globe. As she neared the finish, actor Russell Crowe posted a video from Australia wishing Hare a happy birthday and telling her "what an amazing feeling you're going to have when you can say you've claimed the globe."

- 'Hardest sailing race' -

Fellow skippers Jean Le Cam, who finished fourth, and Benjamin Dutreux who was ninth, came down to the dock to greet her. Hare said that she had hardly met any of her 36 rival captains when the race started but now "I feel like I am part of the family."

Le Cam called Hare "amazing".

Hare said she had set herself the goal of beating the old Vendee women's record.

"I felt it was really important to have a sporting objective and that needed to be relative to the age of the boat I was racing. And so being a British female skipper, the obvious place to look was the year 2000 race when Ellen MacArthur came second and so her time of 94 days and 4 hours was my benchmark."

She fell just short, though by the time Hare finished, French skipper Clarisse Cremer had already broken the old record by seven days.

"It was almost exactly as I imagined it. I always imagined it to be the hardest sailing races you could possibly do, and maybe one of the toughest things you could choose to do in your life."

"I learned that I am way stronger than I ever thought I would or could be."

Even as she stepped on dry land for the first time in 95 days, Hare's thoughts turned to the sea again.

"I had to struggle to turn left down the pontoon rather than turn right and look at which boat I wanted next," she said.