Round-the world sailor plots making solo race social

British sailor Pip Hare wants to share the experience of one of the world's toughest sporting achievements.

"I always say there's a difference between being alone and being lonely," says Pip Hare. The British sailor will get to explore that distinction very well indeed when she sets sail to go around the world solo in a 60-feet boat in the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe race.

Starting from France on 8 November, the Vendée is an extraordinary test of human endurance that has only been completed by seven women. Spending about three months at sea is tough enough without all the other trials Hare will face in the course of a 24,000-mile race but she will be buoyed by a community of experts, supporters and well-wishers. Tapping satellite communications, Hare will use software from her sponsor Medallia to share her experience with blogs, data dashboards and video feedback and she is even setting out to crowdsource ideas on optimising performance and staying physically and mentally fit.

The challenges have been enormous just to compete so it was something like destiny that recently brought together San Francisco-headquartered Medallia and Hare. Remarkably, while Hare was scrambling to fund her quest it was Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch who contacted her just a few months ago and a deal was quickly agreed that saw the company become her main sponsor. Speaking on the eve of the preparatory Lonely Rock sailing race, Hare said she is keen to share her experiences so that sailing becomes more accessible.

"It's a closed-off sport: you can look but not touch [and] there's a lot of technical language," she says of sailing today. She'd like to see sailing receive more coverage, be more inclusive and for people to understand the breadth of the sport and its positive effects. Hare is the Patron of the Visually Impaired Sailing Association, for example, which helps more people to enjoy the freedom of sailing.

She says technology plays a huge part in modern competitive sailing, listing autopilot, object detection and weather downloads, but today, the social element is also powerful.

"Technology is as important as the sailing itself. I've created this group of supporters and followers who are inspired by these challenges and I've been completely blown away by the number of strangers who want me to succeed. Communications is an essential part of what I'm doing. I want to demystify [sailing] because it's such an incredible human experience."

Hare's ambition is to beat Dame Ellen MacArthur's time of 94 days, four hours and 25 minutes but she says completion of the Vendée will alone be "monumental". That's understandable as the Vendée sounds brutal, asking participants to be not just sailors but meteorologists and nutritionists while dealing with sleep deprivation, danger and sickness too.

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