Pip Hare is 11th on Retour a La Base

Britain’s Pip Hare (Medallia) completes the Retour à La Base in 11th place.

After today adding an excellent 11th place on theRetour à La Base solo race back from Martinique to France to a 12th on the outward double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, British skipper Pip Hare confirmed she is ‘back in a happy place’ as she heads home solo to Poole on England’s south coast where she is expected Tuesday evening.

In reality the 49 year old Hare had to let the adrenalin settle and the competitive drive dissipate just a little before she reframed her 11th to be a really positive outcome.

Her 3,500 miles singlehanded race across the Atlantic – which took the 32 boat fleet from the warmth of the Caribbean into the train of fast moving low pressure systems, to finally cross a hostile Bay of Biscay and finish at Lorient’s La Base early this afternoon – came down to a final dogfight with her longstanding French rival Romain Attanasio (Fortinet-Best Western).

But after racing almost side by side since the second day after leaving Fort de France, Attanasio moved clear on the final straight and denied Hare a place in the top 10 by only 21 minutes despite having sustained a head injury during his last night racing.

When she set off from Martinique on her first solo race on her IMOCA which was fitted with new, bigger foils last winter, her main goal to was to learn how best to push the boat and benchmark herself in the anticipated match with Isabelle Jocschke (MACSF), Attanasio and Crémer.

She crossed the finish line at 13:41:14hrs UTC today for an elapsed time of 10d 21h 41m 14s. Hare finished 1d 21h 37m 26s after winner Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa).

Eleventh is her best finish in the IMOCA class yet. She finished 13th in last summer’s Vendée Arctic, 12th in the Route du Rhum and 12th in the recent Transat Jacques Vabre.

“To be honest the finish was a bit disappointing because when you are so close for so long and then just miss out by a few minutes it is hard. The thing is you get to the finish line that close to someone else all that matters is the final ten miles, you almost forget about the other 3,490 miles that went before to get you where you are.” She said minutes after taking her finish gun.

But she soon reflected: “Overall I am happy. I am so happy. It was really great race. It was hard but I love hard races. This year has been a hard one. It has not been my favourite year, there has been lots and lots of stress, trying to raise money for the foils, and making big changes to the boat means I don’t get to go sailing, which for me is the most important thing. So to finish off with two good back to back Transatlantics puts me back in my happy place.”

She recalled, “There were times I was a long away ahead of Isa (Isabelle Joschke) and Romain and I broke my foil down lines, had the hydraulic leaks which needed my to stop and repair, but catching up with Clarisse as well was important. Overall I think there are a couple of things which stand out: the boat’s raw potential is huge. And I have validated that I am capable of pushing the boat. And I am not afraid of it.”

Rather then stop into Lorient, the sailor who once said ‘the thing for me is a that a marathon is not enough’ immediately set off to deliver her boat solo back to the Dorset haven where her team is based.

“ Now I am really looking forwards to sailing the boat home now. It is nice. I like sailing, can’t you tell?” she laughed

She explained the key learnings from her solo race, “The big thing for me has been whether I can stand to push to the capacity that this boat delivers. Living on board is hard, you are constantly thinking you are going to hurt yourself and I have bruises everywhere, I have been thrown across the cabin twice. But you kind of live with that. It was moe tha when you are pushing the boat over 30kts for 1,2 or not normally much longer than that, but everything in your head is saying, stop now! Stop now! The boat creaks and howls and smashes down. It takes off and buzzes and buzzes then crashes down and everything resonates. You need to give yourself the confidence that the boat is strong. And now I have done that. It would have been a total waste not to have pushed, because we all need to know what is going to be like in the South. There is no point in having upgraded to big foils if you can’t use the power the deliver. And so it is uncomfortable, there is not a single person who could sit and casually watch the numbers without worrying it is all going to split apart.”

And although she has now delivered a series of solid finishes on all the major races recently she still has the odd, nagging doubt…

“I still don’t have a great deal of confidence in my own ability. I am still very daunted by the company I am ending up racing against. These are people who have been racing on the Figaro circuit, in the offshore world of French racing. I guess I am starting to feel like I do belong. But the demons on my shoulders are still saying I don’t have the same experience, I don’t have the same background. But the thing is once I am out there on the ocean, it doesn’t matter. It just does not matter.“

Hare was one of four skippers who finished today Monday. Clarisse Crémer (L’Occitane en Provence) is due in 12th this evening, followed by Swizerland’s Alan Roura (HUBLOT) around midnight and the the first two non-foiling daggerboard boats Benjamin Ferré (Monnoyer-Duo For A Job) who is only 30 miles ahead of the Kiwi Conrad Colman (Mail Boxes ETC). Japan’s Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG Global One) is due around 0400-0500hrs Tuesday.

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