British skipper Pip Hare and her sponsors, Medallia, have confirmed they are the new owners of the IMOCA Bureau Vallée 2, which Louis Burton sailed to third place on the last Vendée Globe, and which Armel Le Cléac’h sailed to victory in 2016-17 in a record time of 74 days 3 hours.
The purchase of this well proven successful IMOCA represents a massive step towards the 2024 Vendée Globe for Hare, 47, who has worked relentlessly to achieve this goal since she finished in 19th place back on 12th February.
Hare, whose inspirational attitude and sheer tenacity made her one of the most popular stories of this ninth edition, raced the 21-year-old former Superbigou, but admits she had already earmarked two boats last October, as her potential ‘next boat’. Now she is determined to take a short rest, learn the boat and up her skill levels to be ready for a full IMOCA season in 2022.
Another key goal achieved for you Pip, it must feel fantastic to know you have every chance to be on the start line in 2021, what is the duration and scope of the program you have with Medallia?
“This is to take me to Vendée Globe 2024. This year I will now take it a little bit slower because it is a massive step up for me and I don’t want to rush things. I want to make sure I am doing things at the right time for me.
“We have said we might possibly do the Transat Jacques Vabre, maybe, but the most important thing is that I get myself to be super confident, super comfortable sailing this new boat. And then, as of 2022, I will be doing the IMOCA Globe Series,
“I want to try and do some UK offshore events to support the UK circuits a bit, I might be a lone wolf, but I don’t want to have a great boat and then just disappear off to France! A Round Britain record would be fun, and it is Round Britain and Ireland race next year, so there are some fun things to do out there as well.”
How do you feel about having a new boat, it is another important career step?
“Exhausted! I don’t know. When we walked round the dock at the start of the Vendée Globe Leslie (Stretch CEO Medallia) was already saying ‘we might be interested in taking this further. And that was before we had even left the dock.
“Of course I was looking at which boats would be good. I was never a 2020 and only 2020 girl ever. Of the boats I looked at, the two I said I would be interested in were Maître Coq and Bureau Vallée and Bureau Vallée ended up being the one I wanted most, and we got that one. It is a massively capable boat; I just hope I am the massively capable skipper to go with it.”
You have a transition period, a good handover stage with Louis (Burton) and Servane (Escoffier, Louis’ wife, business partner and manager)?
“Yes, they have been massively supportive. In reality they are just across the channel and we are going to be working alongside them as we recommission the boat. Louis and members of his team will come and do some sailing with me. I am so happy and little bit scared.”
And so what is your schedule, when do you take on the boat and when can you start training?
“We own the boat now but with the Ocean Race Europe happening we likely won’t get it back in the water until the end of June beginning of July and I will run it out of Poole from the end of July. I will have the training wheels on.”
Now you can get some rest?
“I have a week next week in France. All of us Vendée Globe girls are going to the French senate and so I have a week in quarantine in Brittany. That is my rest.”
And what was it like saying farewell to the old Medallia, the Superbigou, was it a bit sad?
“It was and it wasn’t. It was because it was The End, drawing a line under everything but really, I had done everything I wanted to with the boat. And because it was The End, I was not sad to see it go. We came together to do one thing. Now it is over and it was time to move on, let us say. We had a ‘conscious uncoupling’ as Gwyneth Paltrow would have it.”
Have you been sailing at all?
“I have missed sailing like crazy. I am jealous of anyone who has been out sailing, the sailing has started again the in the harbour here (Poole), but I have just been too busy to get a ride out with anyone. So I have been a bit jealous of everyone out on the water.
“By June I will be fully back into it I think and lots of different things. I will do the Quarter Ton Cup and I am looking forwards to that, it is super competitive, it is such different sailing. They guys I sail with Tom Hill on Belinda (1986 Gonzalez design) I have sailed with for a few years, and it is good fun, good banter. There is a lot to enjoy. I will be trimming the mainsail.”
And your fitness is coming back. You spoke about doing the 3 Peaks Race this year?
“I have been training but I fell over. I keep falling over, I think my body is trying to tell me something! and I fractured two ribs. I literally tripped over a tree root and got another root on my sternum and fractured two ribs. I really, really want to do it but maybe my body is trying to tell me something. But it has been really, really hard.
“I am such a long way off where I wanted to be. The biggest issue has been my weight loss. I lost so much weight – 9 kilos – and one of the things with rapid weight loss like I had is that when you go back to eating normally, your body stores everything and so I am now struggling with being overweight now. That is hard with running and so it will take me a few months.”
So really you have been going at 100% since you finished?
“When I came back, I was determined not to feel the void, the black hole after the race is gone. And so I have been full on. You don’t have time to bask in the glory, and it is not terrible, because I can still close my eyes and remember how amazing it was. It is still is. It was the best thing I have ever done in my life.
“But it does feel like I have changed so much that it feels like it was someone else who did the race. That just makes me more determined to be back on the race, to have a longer program, do more sailing and be out there more. That is what I crave.”
So everything has been on hold until now?
“Now I am so close to it not being on hold and soon I will be able take the foot off the gas and let some other people take the strain a little bit and just have an emotional reset. We are on the verge of the next step. But it is great to know now I will have the chance to operate at the level I want to be at on the next race.”
What did you learn about yourself on this last Vendée Globe?
I think I surprised myself where I was in the fleet and how hard I was able to push that boat. I am not scared to push. That was the big unknown for me. Was there a switch in my brain that would not allow me to push hard, that sees risk. I am a lot tougher than I thought I was.
“I was not frightened about the physical nature of that boat, and that applied over an extended period of time. That was quite a good thing to discover about myself because it really did make be believe 100 percent. I should be continuing.
“Every step of my career I have said I have to have an honest evaluation of how we did. And if I got to the stage where it is ‘no this is as far as I can go’ then I would have been at one with myself because I had gone as far as I could. I always wanted to go into things with the confidence as I should be there, rather than ever parachuting in, being out of my depth, and then getting out of it.”
And so how does this next phase look?
“All of this project was about the boat. I put myself last. I had the chance to sail with Paul Larson and that was great for me because my whole career I have not really had the chance to sail with really great sailors that often.
“What I would like for me career wise, now, is this is my greatest opportunity to develop as a solo sailor and I would really, really like to have more coaching, to join up with some of the French training camps, to sail with different people.
“Until now I have never felt I was the right calibre for people to want to do that with me. I am still a bit hesitant about who I sail with, but I have much more confidence about being able to hold my own. I am really, really just desperate to learn. I have spent so long teaching and coaching other people, now I want to learn.”
Is coaching and teaching good for your own sailing and how you learn?
“Yes! 100 percent coaching is an amazing way to improve your own sailing. My ability to solo sail is in no small way thanks to the likes of corporate sailing at Cowes Week, having a different team every day, having to tell people who have never ever been on a boat how to drop a spinnaker, you are managing risk and breaking things down and communicating what to do all the time, vocalising. I think that makes you look at sailing in a different way.”
And with six girls on the last race can we see even more on the next race?
“I reckon we will see more girls on the next race. Talking with all the girls recently I think we all want to be back. I was speaking to Miranda and she wants to do it again. And there are more girls out there.
“I was in Jersey giving a talk recently and there were two ladies came up to me there and just said to me how inspired they have been to improve their own sailing, at their own level. That was really lovely.
“The interesting thing is everyone assumes it is about inspiring the younger generation, but it is not. Sailing is for everyone and there are entry levels at every point. But yes, it is great to talk about inspiring the younger generation, but there is a change in the demographic of the mass of people on the water and I think in due course that will make it easier for women at the elite end of the sport.”