Read the latest entry from British yachtswoman Pip Hare as she prepares for the Mini Transat Race - in 171 days time

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Monday 11 April 2011 – On a plane again……………

The joys of easyjet and Gatwick airport, overpriced water, endless seemingly pointless waiting, an oh so important day lost in travelling, buses, trains, planes; and there are only 171 precious days left to the start of the transat.

The last couple of weeks have been very tough for me; full; too full and lived at break neck speed trying to pull all the elements of my life together and just make it all work. After finishing my qualifier I hopped straight on a plane and returned to England to work, no break, no extra sleep, and straight back into it. But it’s important to work and I am not in a position to make my Transat campaign the only focus in life.

I am self employed so not only is the money from working essential but maintaining my company, keeping my clients, making sure when I have finished the transat there will be something to come home to.

The net result of sailing 1000 miles alone and then going straight to work was that I became run down and then ill, developing a persistent and nasty infection which started in my chest with a painful and annoying cough, then moved to my sinus and my eyes before being caught by a French doctor, thoroughly beaten with three different types of medication and told not to return in a hurry.

It seems for the whole of March I was on the run, tired and unwell and I have a lot of people to thank for getting me through it all in staggering form.

I have had an almost impossible schedule of packing up the boat, towing it over 1000 kilometres, unpacking, racing, repacking, towing again, all before returning to work in the UK last week.

It would have been impossible for me to do all this alone, I was in poor health, and over tired so I owe a huge and very genuine amount of thanks to the guys who have gone out of their way to help me; packing up my boat in the rain when I was in a different country, driving with me and my boat through the night while I slept with my head at an impossible angle in the passenger seat, painting numbers on the deck, getting me through my first safety control check, racing with me, keeping me focussed and on the right path, dealing with my meltdowns at 2am towing a bright red boat through the centre of Genoa, subbing me money when my credit card reached its limit.

Sam ‘the Goodchild’ winner of the Artemis Acadmey Figaro Scholarship, Guillaume Rottee coach at CEM, Paul ‘trucking’ Peggs mini addict, the one and only great Flash Harris (requires no further introduction) and of course my Mum and Dad; Thank you is a pathetic word to cover just how grateful I am.

This week of work in the UK has been the last now until May.

I am much better and looking forward to getting back to Italy and being genuinely ready for the Italian Grand Prix which starts on April 17th.

It has been a strange week, trying to hold together all the strands of my life and stop it all unravelling.

My main focus is always on the mini; when I am not training I feel guilty, I feel the pressure and in my mind I can see the big clock ticking down.

I work as a sailing coach and yacht skipper so have been out sailing every day and trying to snatch five minutes at lunch time to organise the purchase and collection of equipment in France, logistical arrangements in Italy, and chasing along trying to grab at those elusive leads on finding a title sponsor for my campaign.

In the UK I live on my boat, ‘the Shed’, which I competed in the OSTAR and Round Britain and Ireland race; she is 21 years old and feeling very neglected. All boats of that age need love, they need attention and maintenance to keep them up to scratch and my sad boat is the bottom of the pile. So long as she is floating and my duvet is dry the job list grows and I am unable to do anything about it.

When I am abroad, training and working on the mini, evenings are spent on the internet, catching up on the tax return (I missed the deadline !), answering emails, chasing sponsorship, surfing money between credit cards and writing.

And so the racing is a pleasure.

The treadmill I have put myself on is running fast and I have to keep up or I will fall over. To race is to get off; to step out into the fresh air and to run in the open.

My life is no longer in pieces spread around me; it is in one place; on the boat. All that matters is the race, the sea, the sails, the boat, the course. I relish the opportunity to take all that intensity and bring in into one focus. This is my prize and to compete in the transat in September will be the biggest rollover of them all.