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.”