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Vendée Globe update: Pip Hare 'back in the groove'

by Vendée Globe 5 Feb 23:46 PST 6 February 2021

Pip Hare writes this morning: We feel like we are back in the groove today. I've done sail changes, reefs in and out all day and Medallia has been cruising her way through the waves in that downwind style we got so used to at the beginning of the race. It has been utter bliss.

I am pushing hard. There is no question that I am going to encounter gale force conditions between now and the finish line and at the moment, the more miles I can make to the East the less time I will have to spend in the gale. It's taken a bit of time to find the groove as the wind this morning was very unstable but finally, as the sunset approaches I feel we are making a decent speed and it feels good. The nights are long at the moment, there is no moon and I am starting to encounter quite a bit of commercial shipping so my instruments are all set to sound in the event of traffic or wind shifts and we will push on through the night to gybe mid-morning.

I have to admit to being nervous about the oncoming weather system. The grib file shows I may encounter 30-34 knots for 12 hours and this would have seemed like business as usual in the Southern Ocean but after 13 weeks at sea I know that the power of the wind and the waves will find any weakness that may have been developing and regardless of the confidence I have built in heavy weather during this race, it is still incredibly challenging managing a boat this size safely in rough conditions. I have checked the whole boat from bow to stern today. Two days ago I made a further fix to the steering quadrant on my port rudder which is not a great fit and has been slowly slipping. I checked that today and it is holding fast. I want and need to push, I am still racing the clock and aspiring to finish in the best time I possibly can but I don't want to make a stupid mistake or overlook at detail at this stage. It doesn't matter how close to the finish, I am still only ever a step away from a race ending mistake. If there was a way around this weather I would take it but there is none so I just need to keep being thorough and meticulous and work my way through it with caution.

I guess I am nervous because the stakes seem high but I need to trust that I can get through this well. I never doubted myself before and it seems a bit odd that I feel this way now.

Vendee Memory two: My first solo sail on an IMOCA was only my second sail ever on this boat. I had spent the month of January 2019 getting the boat lifted, mast out and surveyed, commissioning the boat back into sailing condition after it had sat unused for ten months in Lorient. I had a 36 hour weather window to delivery the boat from Port La Foret to Poole in February. I decided to do it alone, after all I had to go out solo at some point. I left under engine in calm conditions in the afternoon and was absolutely terrified by the size of the boat and the delivery ahead. There was no wind and I motored until Ouesant. An alarm went off and I needed to go forward to investigate if there was a leak. But every time I tried to crawl through a tunnel I would hear a noise on deck and be paralysed with the fear that the pilot had stopped or something was loose and would leg it back out on deck to check. It took me six hours to get around the whole boat and reassure myself everything was ok. By the time I got to Ouessant the breeze had built and I rolled out my J2 to reach across the channel. Slowly the wind built and despite my starting with the assertion I would make the delivery with two reefs and a J3, before I knew it I was reaching at 15 knots with 1 reef and the J2, dolphins on the bow and loving it. I made it to Poole just as the next weather front came in and had a hairy entrance to the port. From that moment I knew I had made the right decision stepping up to an IMOCA. It was going to be tough but I could do it.

Today's motivational Vendee Tunes: Going Undergroud - The Jam.

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