British skippers on way to start of Vendée Globe

The 9th edition of the Vendée Globe’s village opens its doors on October 17th, and the British skippers are on their way.

“Maintaining a village that is open to the public and the start on 8th November is proof that all those involved in this race have shown their ability to adapt to meet the requirements of health and safety measures. We are proud to announce that out public health protocol has been approved by the relevant authorities,” says Yves Auvinet, president of the SAEM Vendée.

Pip Hare, Medallia, left Poole Quay yesterday, hosting a live virtual send-off.

“It’s been a hectic few days,” she says, “but the boat’s in great shape – I’m really happy with how it is.”

In a recent interview (via facebook) Hare admits to her fears.  But she has a plan for dealing with incidents like extreme weather, or if something happens on the boat she can’t control or fix.

“I just focus on the one most important thing I need to do at any time. I think of that, and then the next thing and then the next thing,” she says. 

“To even have the slightest chance of success at something you have to accept that there’s always going to be an element of failure. But when you aim high and push outside of your comfort zone, you’ll realise you’re capable of more than you imagine.”

Hare’s supported by a team of ten working on the project and, she says, ‘a huge amount of friends and volunteers’.

Keeping her company on the journey south is Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, who left Gosport on the same day.

“I don’t feel the sort of pressure people expect me to feel,” Thomson recently told BBC South Today. “I know what to expect having done the race four times.

“In my opinion, just finishing the race is the big win and that’s the first objective.

“As my mentor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston always says: ‘If you want to finish first, first you have to finish’.”

He says his biggest challenge for his 60ft Imoca class monohull will be balancing ‘performance with reliability’.

“Finding that balance is very, very tricky,” Thomson says. “I’m always worried about what sticks out of the boat, but each tiny, little part has got a process to go through to try to make it as reliable as possible.

“So we try to eliminate as much of the bad luck as possible.

“To my belief, any race is over before you start. It’s all about the preparation and the choices you make. Some of those choices we made two years ago, so you can’t worry about it too much.

“You have to stick to your plan, you’ve got to be calm and confident that you’re working with some of the best people in the world.”

Miranda Merron, Campagne de France, is focused on the finish too. It’s her first attempt at the Vendée Globe and she is not making any secret of the fact that her main goal is simply to get round the world in her 2006-vintage IMOCA.

Miranda Merron

“It would be huge, huge, to finish,” she told Sail World. “It’s a very long way around the world – it really is. Everyone is talking about the Vendée Globe as if it’s a racecourse in the Bay of Quiberon. It’s not. It’s really a very long way and it goes to places where mankind simply shouldn’t go.

“This will probably be the hardest thing I will have done since my early solo races,” Merron says. “But mentally, the older I get, the better I am. I am now kind of quite happy racing solo, whereas before there would be highs and lows.”

She’s in awe of those who completed the course prior to ‘comms’ being what they are now.

“I really admire anyone who has set off on this race, especially those who went round when the comms were not what they are now,” she says. “It is a very different game now, it is like Halvard [her partner] describes it, as living in a phone booth which is permanently connected to the outside world, you have a permanent umbilical cord, so anyone who went round in the early days I really admire.”

Image courtesy of Patrick Deroualle.

Sam Davies, Initiatives-Coeur, has left her base in the Lorient.

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