25 January 2021 - 09:50 • 14144 views



Message from Pip Hare.

Having now spent two days in recuperation mode, trying to fight my bodies allergic reaction to the heat/sun/jellyfish sting, I've been reflecting on just how much I have put my poor body through in the last 77 days, and I am as ever impressed at what we human beings can do.

I have set up, hoisted and dropped offwind sails sometimes ten changes a day; dragging them into position, fumbling with small catches and levers in freezing conditions, taking ice cold water over my head as I hang off the bow to pull in a tackline, hauling against the halyard with all my bodyweight, being yanked off my feet by the spinnaker refusing to be tamed. I have staggered or crawled up and down the deck to the mast to put reefs in and out, crawled my way out along the boom to un-hook reefing lines, stood bent forwards over the coffee grinder, arms pumping for what amounts to hours, eased sheets out only to pull them in minutes later, top wound furling lines on sails that seem to go on forever and ever. I have dragged heavy wet sails from one end of the boat to the other, lifting them out of the hatch at the front and over every obstacle that may catch them on the deck. I have crawled in and out of tiny, dark, damp spaces in temperatures over 35 degrees, slick with sweat while trying to do up bolts or thread a line in a corner I can only reach with one hand. I have slept on the floor for sometimes only minutes at a time, eaten from pouches and bags, some meals only a mouthful managed before I am needed on deck again. I have been shivering with cold, exhausted with heat and yet still when the boat calls, my body will jump into action.

I have never taken my fitness foregranted, it is hard won through years of training. I have had to overcome injuries including a broken pelvis in 2018 and it is something I value immensely as a vital component to achieving my goals. I do ask a lot of my body and will frequently push outside my own comfort levels, enduring pain and exhaustion to get to where I want to be. The incredible ability of a human to endure short term physical discomfort never ceases to amaze me. We are both physically and mentally capable of so much more than we believe, we just need a good reason to push that much further and a base level of fitness to guard against injury.

I have always believed a high level of endurance fitness to be important for solo sailing and I've built this up by running which has become a second passion of mine. Running longer distances off road requires a similar physical discipline and mental fortitude to solo sailing and I find the two sports complement each other well. Strength and power of course play a part and since starting to sail an IMOCA I have included weight training in my physical program, not only to build muscle but to gain good technique and avoid injury working with the heavy loads on this boat. In truth now after 77 days at sea that extra muscle I built pre race is all gone and my body has burned off it's fat reserves. I am now entirely reliant on my endurance fitness, to keep that drumbeat going and ensure I fight until the end.

There are not many things that will stop me from pushing through discomfort and getting on with a job, but I have learned that there are sometimes when my body screams at me and I need to listen. This allergic reaction has been such a time. I have understood that now I need to look after myself a bit more than the boat and I am lucky to have conditions that allow me to do so. After two days of resting, drinking, eating and medication I can already see the signs of healing and feel my energy levels returning to what I know they should be. It is probably true that I have nutured my boat more than myself throughout this race, but maybe that is because I know myself better and I know how much I can endure. I can tell the difference between temporary discomfort and a proper cry for help and it is only the second one of these that will make me back off the pace.

Pip Hare / Medallia