Pip Hare, IMOCA 60 Medallia's skipper

Hare’s Remarkable Rudder Replacement Keeps Medallia Rolling Towards Cape Horn


09/01/2021 - 07:56

British skipper Pip Hare kept her Vendée Globe on course when she replaced her damaged port rudder on Medallia yesterday evening, completing the difficult operation in the South Pacific Ocean some 1000 miles west of Cape Horn.

Having discovered a crack in the shaft of her rudder, the 45 year old had no alternative to stop her IMOCA 60, drop out of the damaged rudder and ship the spare in 20 knots of wind and a big Pacific swell.

Hare may have lost two places, dropping to 17th, but the English solo racer who is on her first time ever in the Southern Ocean, has kept her race alive and – if she maintains the same pace as today – she should reach Cape Horn and deliverance from the south on Monday afternoon or evening.

“Every part of my body aches. I have bloody knuckles on every finger, bruises all down my legs and muscles I didn't know I had that hurt but YES!!!!! The new rudder is in and Medallia is back in the game. Yesterday I was scared and apprehensive. The conditions were far from ideal, a big swell and a forecast for a light patch between gales. I talked through the procedure with Joff and with Paul, the main concern was slowing the boat down enough to get the rudder in and then the boat landing on the rudder stock and doing damage to either. Eventually with a drogue out of the back and under bare poles in 16-18 knots of breeze I went for it”.

She noted this morning, “I think the whole procedure took about an hour and a half with many hours of preparation and packing up before and after. My heart was in my mouth for the whole time. I ran around the cockpit, winding winches, pulling ropes, sliding over the to the back of the boat to grab, yank, manhandle, rudder ropes and anchor chain. Once I was committed to doing it there was nothing that was going to get in my way. There were some tough moments and I had to plead with my boat and the ocean a couple of times but when that new rudder stock finally came shooting up through the deck level bearing the out loud whooping that came from me could easily have been heard for miles around... if anyone had been there to hear it.”  

In an emotional exchange this afternoon with Swiss ace Bernard Stamm who built Medallia as Superbigou 20 years ago and won two solo round the world races on her, he told her, “You are my hero. What you did is incredible. I hope you have no more problems before you finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne."

Hare was making 14.5 to 15 knots this Friday afternoon with some 900 miles to Cape Horn.

And among her group the impatience to pass Cape Horn becomes more pressing for the pack which extends from Alan Roura (now 15th), to Kojiro Shiraïshi (21st). This morning, after finding a tear on his J2, Jérémie Beyou (18th) sounded utterly fed up:  “Since the Tasman the wind has not dropped below 35 knots, it's just wearing. Three days ago it was just rubbish, it was super violent. It was between 6 and 7 meters troughs and it was coming from the side breaking, so the boat was going in a wave and suddenly a breaking wave was coming from the side. I got thrown to the back of the boat a few times.”

At the back of this group, Manu Cousin today has his own share of problems. His boat made an involuntary gybe, breaking a mainsail batten car broke, tearing the mainsail just above the 3rd reef, forcing the adopted Les Sablais racer to drop the main and sail at low speed under J3 alone, knowing that this small headsail is also showing some signs of weakness.

Even with the relatively slow race pace – compared to the 74 day record of the 2016-17 race - food supplies are not yet and issue, even still with some having their Deep South requirement of about 7,000 calories a day.   "I have enough to go around the world for the second time," laughs Alexia Barrier. That is not the case for second placed Thomas Ruyant who only took 80 days of food and so says he will be missing breakfasts and a few sweet snacks by the time he reaches Les Sables d’Olonne later this month.

Ruyant is just determined to do the best he can. He has come back nicely at second placed Charlie Dalin since Cape Horn, steadily gnawing back miles to be racing side by side some 15 miles apart in what is more and more looking set to be a race to the finish line of Figaro offshore one design level intensity. Weather files now predict the top group to become more and more compact.  Ruyant needs to make another mast climb to repair an wind vane which is depriving him of wind mode (his 5th climb). But the match race with Apivia, the two Verdier designs seven miles apart still, is precluding Ruyant’s next mast ascent.

Leader Yannick Bestaven still has some 411 miles in hand over Dalin and Ruyant, Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL) is fourth 51 miles behind.

Some statistics at 61 days

Leader Yannick Bestaven has completed 78% of the route compared with 48% for the last placed Sébastien Destremau
The Skipper the most times at the top of the official rankings, Charlie Dalin (137 times) who will be matched this evening by Yannick Bestaven
10 leaders have lead since the start (in order according to the time spent in the lead): Charlie Dalin, Yannick Bestaven, Alex Thomson, Thomas Ruyant, Jean Le Cam, Maxime Sorel, Jérémie Beyou, Damien Seguin, Louis Burton, Benjamin Dutreux.

Longest distance covered in 24 hours since the start: Thomas Ruyant, on November 21, 2020 with 513.3 miles (954.3 km), at an average speed of 21.6 knots.
Now more than 30 ascents up the mast to make repairs

Actual distances sailed and average race speed of the leaders
Apivia 22 296.81 nms 15.2kts
LinkedOut 22 286.49nms 15.2kts
Maître Coq IV 22 022.01nms 15.0kts

Leaders' split times:

Equator: HUGO BOSS on 11/18/2020 at 13:19 UTC after 9d 23h 59min of race
Cape of Good Hope: Apivia on 11/30/2020 at 11:11 UTC after 22d 09h 51min
Cap Leeuwin: Apivia on 12/13/2020 at 11:25 UTC after 34d 22h 05min
Cape Horn: Maître Coq IV on 01/02/2021 at 13:42 UTC after 55d 00h 22min

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