The clock is ticking down for a well-known local sailor as she prepares for the start later this month of the Transat 6.50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia – otherwise known as the Mini Transat.
In what has become a truly international affair, Warsash yachtswoman Pip Hare is among only a handful of Brits taking part in the 4,200-mile single-handed race from Fort Boyard near La Rochelle to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, via Madeira.
The 37-year-old is following in the wake of some illustrious sailors, including some of the biggest names in solo sailing such as Ellen MacArthur and Portsmouth’s Sam Davies.
And she will line up on September 25 against 83 other sailors representing 15 nationalities in the 18th running of the event.
The trans-Atlantic race is sailed in yachts that are only 21-feet long – mini, indeed.
Hare has spent her entire working life as a professional sailor, moving to the Solent 18 years ago from her Cambridgeshire home to take up her first job with Sunsail in Port Solent.
She has put her life savings on the line to fund her Mini Transat campaign – her boat alone cost in the region of £40,000.
She said: ‘Are you just going to sit around wishing that money is going to fall out of the sky or make it work and deal with it afterwards?
‘I can afford to do the Transat now.
‘I am looking at everything I have and at the end of the Transat I should be able to cover all of my bills, but I’ll be down to zero.
‘That involves spending my life’s savings. But I am definitely prepared to do that.’
Prior to setting her sights on the Mini Transat, Hare had sailed some 80,000 miles, including the 2009 Ostar race aboard her home for eight years, a Lightwave 395 named The Shed.
Cruising and racing has given her rounded experience that should put her in good stead for the race.
‘Thinking about the skill-set that I have, I don’t have a particular high skill level in one thing, but I know boats, I know how to look after them and maintain them and do all the miles,’ she said.
‘I guess I am a jack of all trades and a master of none.
‘But I think for the long-distance solo stuff, that suits me better.
‘I wanted to have a go at being good at something, so that seemed to be the right thing for me. Plus, bizarrely, I love being at sea on my own.’
Hare has now qualified her pint-sized craft – suitably named The Potting Shed – for the Mini Transat.
And, although still waiting for a name sponsor to come along for the craft, she is grateful for local support from Sunsail Racing, Raymarine and Artemis Offshore Academy.
Hare also recently returned from a 24-hour shakedown sail.
‘Tired, sunburned and totally satisfied,’ she blogged earlier this week.
‘All those brains, and hands and hours that have worked so hard to make all those different components of this little boat come together did a good job. All is right with the world.
‘Now the majority of the boat work is done, I know it is time to turn to myself and start preparing for the 30-odd days of solitude that lie ahead.
‘My preparation is like a sort of meditation. I need to clear my head of all other matters.
‘My job is to sail, to think about my boat, to think about the way ahead, the weather and the race.’