Bermudes 1000 Race - Hurry up and wait
I am in Brest France, sitting on a beanbag at my computer waiting for the wind to arrive.
To recap on the story so far….
After becoming the skipper of my crazy, beautiful, insanely large 60ft IMOCA race boat in January this year it is finally time for us to go racing and so I have come to France for the Bermudes 1000 race. This race will be my first single handed race in the IMOCA class and the first qualification miles toward the Vendee Globe race which starts in November 2020.
Don’t be fooled by the name of the race - it is not 1000 miles and we won’t be going to Bermudas. The race course will be 2000 miles long, we set off from Douarnanez in France, go around the Fastnet rock off Ireland, around the Azores and then finish back in France in the port of Brest. The course will be challenging - it should give me every condition the North Atlantic has on offer - testing all 17 boats and skippers to the max.
We arrived late last week and have spent the last few days getting Superbigou signed off for racing. Safety equipment has been checked, the boat has been inspected to ensure it complies with class rules and my amazing team of shore support have been helping with last minute preparations.
With one day to go SuperB is ready but due to expected bad weather the race start has been postponed until Thursday afternoon.
I now have a little time to breath and if I am brave enough to look up at the horizon. I’ve said it before but this year has provided me with the hardest challenges of my life. To launch my Vendee Campaign and to get Superbigou to the start of this first race has taken every ounce of my focus, energy and brain power - I have not wavered from this task for even one second - phrases like all consuming seem rather inadequate to describe the journey I have been on.
But in a way this focus just proves to me that I am ready for the Vendee. To race one of these 60ft foot machines single handed around the world will be an extraordinary feat. How many other sporting events are there where the athlete is expected to perform, day and night for three months at a stretch. Even when I am sleeping the boat will be performing my every waking second and some of my sleeping moments need to be focussed on the boat, keeping fast, keeping safe and keeping it together. These last few months have been just like that, I have woken at 4.30am most mornings with a head full of jobs to be done, I have worked all day to manage every aspect of getting this race boat to the line and I have slept with a note pad by my bed to remind me of my focus for the next day.
Now the race is here and I can’t wait to get out on the water. Some how life will become simpler, with only the boat and myself to manage but I am in awe of the task ahead. This will be the first time I have spent days afloat alone with this boat - I know we can expect some challenging conditions, I know there will be problems which will take all of my energy and my expertise to overcome. I am nervous of this Beast that is my boat, but I am as ever inspired and excited by the amazing purity that comes with the sport of ocean racing.
When I cross that line it will be just me, my boat and the elements. Success for me in this race is just to finish - to sail 2000 miles on my in a 60ft race boat will be a major achievement. But I also need to enjoy this race - to soak up all of the good bits that all of this strife has been for. I love solo ocean racing - it makes me happy, fulfilled and allows me to be the best version of me I could possibly be.
The ocean energises me, it keeps me on my toes, it provides exquisite moments of adrenaline, beauty, challenge and joy. Our world is a beautiful place and I am lucky to have seen so much of the ocean and from such a unique perspective. The experience is uplifting in every way and I hope to share just some of what I love with you all.
Finally I must make some thank you’s because this project has been supported by some wonderful people.
First my technical sponsors who stepped up to provide me with the support a world class campaign requires.
Helly Hansen for clothing, Poole Harbour Commissioners providing a home for my campaign, Marlow Ropes, Store and Secure and Wessex Vans.
Next a thank you to the first members of the Pip Hare Ocean Racing Business Syndicate - Pro-Marine Finance, Jeremy Rogers Ltd, Inspire and Evolve.
And to all those that have made personal donations to my crowdfund - you have given me the chance to make this happen, you have enabled me to get a boat on the water, to start training and now racing and to create a genuinely exciting and real campaign which will be attractive to a corporate sponsor. Thank you for believing in me get helping to get me this far.
Finally a huge thank you to the people who have walked this journey with me, emotionally, practically and on the water. You guys rock - I can’t write all of your names down because it would take to long. You know who you are and you own a part of this - you are with me.