After her late night arrival into the Les Sables d'Olonne channel Britain's Pip Hare was on top form this morning when she caught up with the media assembled on site and on line from all around the world...and this is Pip.....
How do you feel?
Incredible, absolutely incredible. That is the only word for it.
What was your sporting goal when you left Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday 8th November?
So 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.
You felt that you achieved that sporting goal?
Obviously I didn’t however I felt that it was attainable. At times during the race I was far ahead of it and level-pegging most of the time. Right up until the last five days it was within my reach to beat it and I could see where I went wrong, where I could have made up time so I overall am pleased with how I did relative to that.
Any regrets in terms of the build up to the race?
No regrets! I started with nothing in January 2019, really nothing. I started with a personal loan from the bank. And I built this campaign up out of nothing. To be sitting here now, coming in 19th having raced the way that I did - I can’t have any regrets. I did the absolute best with what I had in the time that I had.
Everyone loved your attitude and outlook on life. Is that the everyday normal Pip?
I would like it to be the everyday Pip but I think maybe it is the Pip that comes with something that I am so passionate about and felt to lucky to be doing and have done. I was so happy. It was the best three months of my life.
One thing that was unique to your race was the communications, was that part of your strategy from the start or did that evolve as you went along?
No that has always been part of my strategy. It started that I came from an area in the UK where no one sails, and I left school and went sailing which my friends did not understand. So I used to write letters and communicate with them in a way that they would understand. I think from there I got used to the story telling and where I am now, I feel that if we want this sport to grow and want greater interest from the public and more investment from the sponsors then we have the responsibility. I feel that is a good return for my sponsor but I am also paying it forward for the sports and sailors in the future.
Explain to us what Medallia do?
In really basic terms, Medallia are a 21st century version of a customer feedback form. They help companies understand how their clients and employees feel about life. They give people a greater understanding of each other.
Next objectives? What is next in terms of the Vendee Globe?
2024 with wings! I think there are a lot of conversations to have but ideally a 2016 generation boat would be amazing.
So, it is nice to come back from the Vendee Globe and go shopping?
I had to struggle yesterday to turn left down the pontoon rather than turn right and look at which boat I wanted next.
At a sporting level, you are going to be doing the Three Peaks Race again. What is your objective this time?
So, the three peaks yacht race is quite an old race in the UK, 42 years old. You sail from Wales to England to Scotland between the three highest peaks and then you run up the mountains. But the race has always been done in teams of five and you have two runners and three sailors. While the sailors are sailing, the runners sleep and vice versa. Myself and my friend Charles are the only people to have done it double-handed and that means we did all the sailing and all the running. This year we want to do it again but win it.
Questions from the floor:
BBC News Question….do you realise how many people you have touched with your race, it has a level of engagement well beyond what anyone would ever have expected?
Yes and no. Mum and dad have said lots of people are interested. Still, even now 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.
What is the most important thing that you have learnt during this Vendee Globe that you wish you had known before the start?
I think there are two things. The first thing is around strategy. I was so focused on the Southern Ocean because I hadn’t been there, and it was the great unknown. I probably spent more time focusing on that than any other leg. I think I nailed the Southern Ocean but the leg up the Pacific was harder emotionally and physically, so there is a big learning curve there. The second thing is that I am not as much as a rubber band as I thought. I take for granted my ability to carry on and on and on and I didn’t completely compute the toll these big events had on me physically and mentally, like changing the rudder. I did not foresee how long it would take me personally to recover from that and I was cross with myself because I didn’t understand why I didn’t go straight from popping the rudder back in to back nailing it. I guess the learning there is that humans are not rubber bands and you have to give yourself time to recover from those events.
As weather forecasts improve, are we becoming more dependent on our technology and were there times when you wished you had followed your instincts and not the software?
The routing software is incredible and you could tell we were all using pretty much the same weather files. I have always relied on my own interpretation of a chart aswell. It looked like someone had vomited on a piece of paper and no routing could take you through it or possibly understand. You use the routing software, you look at the synoptic chart and you have to use common sense of how you and the boat is to see what is possible.
Question from Elaine Bunting, do you think people appreciate the different levels of physical performance, how much harder and tougher it is to race a boat of your vintage?
Me and Didac Costa were saying that there should be a different class in this race for people with roofs and no roofs! It was a much more brutal physical experience for me. When I have to reef the main, it takes me four trips. Everytime I want to look at a sail or trim a sail in the Southern Ocean I have to get fully kitted up in gear to just look at the trim. In terms of motivation and exertion, I think it was much harder.
The one thing I did learn in the south is that in the big breeze, I could push harder. The guys with the foils were backing off and I was revving it up and I loved that.
Question from Andrew at ITV, so was it harder than you expected?
It was almost exactly as I imagined it. I always imagined it to be the hardest sailing races you could possibly to, and maybe one of the toughest things you could choose to do in your life. It was but you have options. In the race, I could choose to push harder and take extra risks or back off. I chose to push as hard as I could and that is always how I envisaged it so it is everything I imagined it would be.
Did you find and reach your limits or is there more to come?
There is always more! You can never reach your limit can you. There is always a question in my mind, could I do better. I mean that is what life is about isn’t it, just trying a little bit harder?
Boris said on German TV about the tears he shed? How many tears did you drop on the floor of your boat?
Yesterday was a tough day and I had a couple of tears yesterday. I call it a pity party and I don’t really do those. I let myself cry for a little bit but then I don’t let myself. The one thing I have shared tears about is that I haven’t been able to share this – the start and the finish - with my family and friends, that my mum and dad are not here and that is the only thing that makes me so very sad.
Helen Fretter’s question, so do you now feel part of the IMOCA family?
At the start I felt lost because everyone talked about this great Vendée family but I wasn’t part of it because I hadn’t met them and then at the start we were all off and that was it. One thing that staggers me is that they have noticed me. So many of the other skippers have said that I have sailed a good race, Jean Le Cam and Benji Dutreux were there last night. I feel like I am part of the family which is great, even though a lot of us had never seen each other face to face.
So when you talk about a 2016 generation boat is that about resources or the physical requirements and toll of sailing a 2020 generation boat?
A bit of both. There is still a conversation to be had on resources. I have been thinking about the kind of sailor that I am and the boat that I want to sail. The 2020 generation boats – I don’t see me in one of those boats. They are maybe a little too detached from the sailing that I know. Where I can add value is my interaction with the elements and I feel I don’t want to be so cut-off from them as the 2020 boats are.
Tell us more about your team?
My team is small and it came together because I ran my campaign single-handed for months. It has come together because of people that I wanted to work with – mainly Joff Brown and then other people that have wanted to help me. Everyone on my team works part-time and has other jobs. The technical stuff I have worked with Joff on that all the way through which is amazing. For two weeks during the race I was really quite ill – it started with a sting from a jellyfish and then I got an allergic reaction that was quite violent, on my skin and on my face and on my breath. I worked with my Team Manager, Lou who is also a medic and was remotely diagnosing me with symptoms and pictures and she got me through those weeks when I was really very ill.
Solo ocean racing and in many respects your solo career started in Plymouth. I am wondering if the interest that your Vendee Globe has generated all around the world, do you think it could be the start of a new golden age in solo racing – globally, rather than just in France?
I really hope so. I think the fact is that as awful as Covid has been, our sport has benefited from it because the Vendee Globe happened and so many other sporting events didn’t so we had an opportunity to tell our story. I hope that window of opportunity has given people enough interest to follow it in the future. We needed a break to show ourselves. I hope, I really really hope.
Cover photo © Olivier Blanchet / Alea
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