Dorset skipper Pip Hare takes 19th place as she crosses the Vendée Globe finish line, becoming the eighth woman to finish the solo non-stop round-the-world race

Pip Hare is the first British sailor to cross the finish line of the Vendée Globe, finishing the solo round-the-world race at 0057 this morning. The sailor from Poole took an impressive 19th place as she emerged from a bitterly cold Bay of Biscay onboard her 21-year-old, IMOCA Medallia.

Before she set off, Pip described herself as ‘not a naturally confident person’. “It’s taken me 10 years to build up the skills and confidence to take on this challenge,” she said in an interview with PBO before the race. “I need to prove to myself that I’m more than capable of something before I progress onto the next step.”

And capable she was. After 95 days, 11 hours, 37 mins and 30 seconds of racing, Hare is the first British skipper to finish the 2020-21 race, and only the eighth women ever to finish the Vendée Globe in its history. Her determination and performance – on the oldest boat yet to finish this edition – has drawn admiration from all corners of the world.

Demystifying ocean racing

She’s illuminated every aspect of her Vendée Globe, demystifying solo ocean racing with her daily down-to-earth reports and cheerful video messages. She even received a birthday message from Hollywood actor, Russell Crowe, after telling BBC Radio Solent presenter Steve Harris she was a big fan of Master and Commander.

Hare grew up in a sailing family in East Anglia, benefiting from a Swallows and Amazons lifestyle of dinghy sailing and cruising on a wooden Folkboat and then a Moody 33. She became a sailing instructor and then professional sailing coach and journalist, regularly contributing to Yachting World. She took the plunge into solo racing in 2009.

Biggest fear not making the start

Hare’s initial budget to do the Vendée Globe was minimal, supported through crowd funding, and her biggest fear was not being able to make the start-line, but in May last year she won sponsorship from Silicon Valley company Medallia. Their immediate input allowed Hare to fit a pedestal winch system and update the sail inventory of the IMOCA, originally named Super Bijou, and renamed Medallia.

Pip Hare started the Vendée Globe as she meant to go on, pushing hard. At the Canary Islands she was 22nd  of the 33 starters. By the Indian Ocean she’d pushed up to 19th, but all the time just a few miles apart from her friend and rival Costa.

She had a setback on 2nd January when her wind sensor failed and the boat crash gybed as the information being sent to the autopilot stopped, a major issue as she could no longer have the pilot steer on wind mode and had no accurate wind information.

Rudder problem

At Point Nemo she posted her best ranking at 15th and remarkably was ahead of the foilers raced by Roura, Boissieres and Le Diraison, leading the group of six that went on to fight it out to the very end. However, it was on January 7th that she encountered her most significant problem. Just 1,000 miles off Cape Horn, she discovered a crack in the port rudder stock. Fortunately, she was not only carrying a newly made spare rudder, but she and her team had practised a replacement procedure.

After her rudder problem she was 17th at Cape Horn and in the South Atlantic she had to slow to laminate a repair to reseal the rudder tube which was letting in water. She lost some miles to Roura and co. but still managed to gain on the Catalan sailor Costa.

Punching above her weight

Climbing the Atlantic she was once more very much punching above her weight and worked hard to stay with this group. She and the group ended up with a detour of over 800 miles because of the position of the Azores high pressure which forced them west on a roundabout route but she stayed in touch and until the very last night, and was still pulling back miles on the foiling boats just in front before finishing 19th today.

The great passages

  • Equator out 20th on 23/11/2020 at 12:48 UTC at 4d 22h 59min after the leader
  • Cape of Good Hope 17 th on 12/6/2020 at 4:48 pm UTC at 5d 5hrs 37min after the leader
  • Cape Leeuwin 17 th on 12/18/2021 at 7:30 am UTC, 8d 20h 04min after the leader
  • Cape Horn18 th on 6/01/2021 at 01:56 UTC, 9d 13h 12 min after the leader
  • Equator return) 20th on 01/28/2021 at 05:43 UTC, 11d 10h 31min after the leader

About the boat, Medallia 

Architect: Pierre Rolland
Construction site: 1999, Bernard STAMM, Lesconil
Launched July 2000