Biz Extra

Published: January 7, 2022 | Updated: January 8, 2022

How Russell Crowe’s video message proved a turning point for solo yachtswoman Pip Hare

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Coleman Marine Insurance, a Gallagher company. is proud to share its Poole Quay HQ with the phenomenal Pip Hare Ocean Racing Team.

Steve Risk, Managing Director, Coleman Marine Insurance, pictured left, said: “Coleman Marine Insurance live and breathe all things marine.

“The opportunity to offer some support to Pip Ocean Racing Team by way of providing a team hub in our Poole Quay offices is something that we were only too pleased to do.

“You can really feel the direction and energy within the team and we love having them with us each day.”

In this month’s Marine Matters we chat with Lou Adams, Operations Director, Pip Hare Ocean Racing Team, and also find out more about Ryan Burridge, Account Handler (Yacht) with Coleman Marine.

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Lou Adams, Operations Director, Pip Hare Ocean Racing Team

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve spent most of my professional life as an NHS nurse; most recently running an emergency department in a large South Coast hospital during the pandemic. Before that I travelled and taught sailing. So, working for Pip combines a lot of these skills-– leadership, management, positivity and a knowledge of sailing – even if that’s in smaller boats! I spend my downtime with my three kids and husband getting outdoors as much as possible.

Tell us about your role as Operations Director.

I head up every part of the shoreside of Pip Hare Ocean Racing. This includes sponsorships, partnerships, making sure that all the contracts and deals are up to date. I also do the logistics for the race starts; basically, anything that’s not sailing is my remit.

I’ve worked with Pip since 2018, first as her friend and a volunteer while continuing to work in the NHS at the same time. I helped the initial campaign to launch and literally spent the first few months of Florence’s life, my youngest, with her in a front baby pouch, on the phone to companies, turning over every single stone to see if we could secure sponsorship for the Pip Hare Ocean Racing Campaign. Prior to working with her on the Vendée Globe I’d also supported her when she completed the 3 Peaks Yacht Challenge double-handed (the first to ever do so).

In June 2020, when Pip acquired Medallia and our title sponsor came on board, it became evident that Pip needed to concentrate on training, the boat and getting ‘race ready’ for the Vendée Globe, so I became a professional member of staff part-time, but continued working as a Matron in the NHS until August 2021.

Members of the Pip Hare Ocean Racing team (left to right) Mel Cooke, Hayley Clark, Joff Brown, Lou Adams, Pip Hare, Olly Young, Isla Reynolds and Ollie Bond. Picture: Richard Crease/Poole Harbour Commissioners.

I work with a fantastic team at Pip Hare Ocean Racing, which has grown from a band of volunteers and friends to a professional campaign of staff recruited specifically for key roles. In the last four months we’ve grown to a team of 11. We have Pip as our Skipper/CEO, Joff Brown as our Technical Director who oversees the boat and preparing for races and refits. Mel Cooke our Campaign Support Manager who supports everything that I do and underpins the campaign.

We’ve recently taken on two Junior Preparateurs, who support Joff on the boat side of things, and an Intern to help both me and Joff. It’s hugely exciting to have them on board. We’re recruiting talent from outside the usual recruitment net and it’s brilliant to see the depth and breadth of skills we now have. And it’s also hugely rewarding to be able to bring in people at the start of their careers and really see them grow in experience, skill and confidence. We’ve recruited through our social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook, in order to appeal to a wide variety of potential staff. We want to stand for being known and seen as giving people opportunities in life that wouldn’t normally be available to them, allowing them to be a part of an elite sailing team and to be able to grow and gain some brilliant skills within that team.

Isla Reynolds is our Communications Manager who joined the team in 2019 as a friend and volunteer too, before becoming a professional member of the team currently working just one day a month. However, when race season starts her time commitment will increase. Isla looks after the press side of things for Pip and helps to keep the momentum going in non-race years. Isla would say that her job is made much easier as we have a very charismatic skipper, with a brilliant story to tell, so all she needs to do is get the press interested in the story, and as soon as they meet Pip, they’re smitten. Pip is great at translating a little-known sport for people who have maybe never experienced life at sea. She did this really well in lockdown, when she could relate her experience as a solo sailor with everyone who was experiencing being isolated from friends and family. And she gave people a way to think positively about that experience and be the best version of themselves in that scenario.

Hayley Clark is our Social Media Lead. We want to get more people following and understanding what Pip stands for  – whether that’s sailors, local Poole and Dorset residents or people who are inspired by Pip as an older, female athlete carving her own path through the usual stereotypes. She has an incredibly diverse mix of followers from around the world and we’ve just launched our YouTube channel. The story that Pip tells is as much about the human side of preparing to compete in an endurance sport as it is about the sailing and the technical side. We’d love to encourage as many people as possible to follow Pip on her social platforms and come along for a brilliant journey!

What is a favourite or funny memory of the 2020 Vendée Globe Race?

During the 2020 Vendée Globe, we were contacted by BBC Radio Solent presenter Steve Harris, pictured left, who has supported Pip right from the beginning. He was putting together a video of people wishing her a happy birthday and asked who we thought Pip would like. We jokingly told Steve that Pip liked Russell Crowe. He’s a tenacious chap and duly tweeted Russell who then sent a fabulous personalised video birthday message to Pip. None of us could quite believe it! At this time, she’d been at her lowest point in her race, having been stung by jellyfish and been really poorly, and having lost places as she’d had to replace the rudder. Pip was stunned to get the message from Russell Crowe and initially slightly disbelieving that it was him. But it couldn’t have come at a better time. It really lifted her spirits at her lowest ebb and became the turning point for her on that hard last leg home. It gave her an inkling of exactly how much support she actually had out there.

What are the plans for 2022?

2022 will be a huge year for Pip and all her team. The boat is currently in refit to prepare for a full-on race calendar and will be competing in the IMOCA Globe Series. It’s Pip’s first year as a full-time athlete – she’s always had to juggle work and training – and so 2022 is about laying the foundations and setting the baseline for both her and the boat so that we can then grow and get better.

The campaign is also in its infancy. We have an amazing opportunity with a competitive boat and a brilliant skipper – but we need the investment to make the most of that opportunity. We are still looking for businesses to join our team of sponsors to enable us to gain more funding which will be used to help us push on from where we are now, to be the competitive campaign that we are focusing on.  Sponsorship money secured will go in to the boat to make improvements and changes and bring it up to the standard of the rest of the Vendée Globe fleet and to ensure that Pip has the best opportunity to have a competitive finish across all her races.

Are there any sponsorship opportunities to join the campaign?

The campaign has changed significantly from what it was at the start of 2020 to where we are now. We are now a professional team, starting our campaign with a title sponsor and have recruited a talented team of staff to support it. Pip proved her ability to sail in the 2020 race and now we’re pushing forward with the competitive campaign. We have the boat, but we need to raise further funds to allow us to make the most of the opportunity and to be a fully funded campaign. We’re confident we offer potential sponsors an exciting – and proven – investment opportunity. We know Pip can sail, we know she’s got a great boat, and we know she can tell her story in a compelling way that inspires people all over the world. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

We still have spaces for Gold and Silver sponsors.  The buzz of this campaign is growing all the time. Last year we were in a lockdown Britain and unable to involve our sponsors in the way that we initially thought but our media return was still immense, valued at $90 million, with 11 billion media impressions, 120 media pieces, including 48 national pieces and the front page of The Times newspaper. For a tiny team made up of volunteers, that’s pretty impressive. So just think what we can do now we’re full time and dedicated to the campaign. The potential for businesses engaging with the Pip Hare Ocean Racing Team and the brand is huge and full of exciting marketing opportunities. I would urge anyone interested in becoming an official partner to get in touch! There are sponsorship levels for all, from small businesses to large corporate organisations. Please contact us at lou@piphareoceanracing.com.

This month – January  – we are also looking at relaunching the local ‘Business Syndicate’ – an opportunity for local businesses to feel a part of the Pip Hare Ocean Racing. The support these businesses provided was pivotal in the 2020 campaign and we’re seeking to mirror this success again, allowing local businesses to be part of a Poole-based but global campaign. We’re incredibly proud to be part of Poole’s rich maritime history, and the Business Syndicate allows us to deepen those links to the area.

To get in touch about the business syndicate or sponsorship please email lou@piphareoceanracing.com

Social media handles:

Twitter: @pipoceanracing

Facebook: Pip Hare Ocean Racing

Instagram: piphareoceanracing

LinkedIn: Pip Hare Ocean Racing

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Getting to know our team at Coleman Marine Insurance

Name: Ryan Burridge

Role: Account Handler (Yacht)

How long have you been in the business?

Four months.

What’s your marine career background?

Unfortunately, very little.

However, growing up and living only five minutes away from the sea, boats and all things marine were always just a stone throw away… fortunately for boat owners, my throw isn’t great.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Of course, talking with customers is a great part about the role.

The idea that I’m constantly learning something new is great and being part of a fantastic team makes the job even more enjoyable.

Use 3 words to describe yourself.

Energetic, adventurous and analytical.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always fancied the idea of being an RAF pilot. Once I had discovered that I wasn’t going to be a high-flyer, I settled for just trying to keep things afloat.

Who do you most admire?

For me it has to be Sir Alex Ferguson.

To think he actually had a Manchester United Team winning trophies. That had to be the work of a miracle worker.

All jokes aside, the way he managed a football team, not only in the tactical sense but also to manage players on a personal level, I think, is something to be admired.

Tell us something about yourself that we don’t know

My odds are always 365/1. There are 365 days in a year and I had to be born on 25th December.