Phil Sharp : "2012 Vendée is my ultimate goal in sailing"
Route du Rhum Class 40 winner enters the Figaro circuit and dreams of Open 60s
jeudi 13 mars 2008 –
Phil will compete with one of the Czech Republic’s top offshore sailor’s David Krizek in the biennial double-handed transatlantic race, the Transat AG2R. Starting on 20 April 2008, the race will see competitors race 3700 miles from Concarneau in the west of France to St Barts in the Caribbean.
Raced in 30ft Beneteau boats, the Figaro class is the only current one-design class in existence that enables sailors to compete in a big fleet of identical boats which means any advantage gained during racing is down to the sailor alone. Sharp, the only British sailor in the race, will be up against a fleet dominated by the French featuring some of the best short-hand sailors in the world.
Sharp teamed up with Krizek, a fellow competitor from the Mini Transat racing circuit, who finished 3rd in the 2007 event. After the race Krizek’s sponsor, Atlantik FR, were keen to continue to a bigger class in sailing. The pair has now set up a training camp in Lorient, France and are being coached by Tanguy Leglatin, one of Brittany’s top ocean racing coaches and will be taking part in Spi Ouest, France’s biggest sailing regatta, as part of their warm up programme. Sharp will also be competing in a 3-day single-handed Figaro race from Les Sables d’Olonne, his first solo race since the Route du Rhum.
Speaking about his first entry in the Figaro circuit, 26 year-old Sharp said : “The Figaro class is about going back to college in ocean racing. The competition in the class is unbelievable high, meaning that whatever boat you’ve sailed before, no matter how well, you get a reality check and learn fast. If you want to progress to the top of the ocean racing sport these days, and get quickly to the front of the Open 60ft classes, the Figaro class is almost essential. It hammers home the fundamentals around offshore yacht racing better than any other class. And actually the racing is incredibly exciting with everyone sailing their boat to the maximum. In Figaro racing you are never that far from the front, within reach of a top result - unfortunately you are never that far from the back either !”
“What’s incredible is how hard people push their boats,” said Sharp. “You walk into the Figaro class and there are tales of people keeping their large spinnakers up in 45 knots of wind and averaging 20 knots. That’s seriously quick for a 30ft boat, and that’s single-handed. In the Class 40 boat I raced in the Route du Rhum I took my spinnaker down in about 30 knots and after that needed to sit down below and have a cup of tea to calm my nerves ! So now I am trying to tame my fear by doing as much training as possibly in the winter gales. However nothing can ever fully prepare you for being cold and wet at the start of an Atlantic race in April, where you know you’re not going to be warm for another two weeks !”
Whilst focusing on the job in hand, Jersey-based Sharp is using the Figaro Transat race as a training ground with which to develop his sailing skills further before moving up to the Open 60 class next year.
“I believe the best time to step up to the Open 60 circuit is following the Vendee Globe next year, as it marks the start of a 4 year season culminating in the 2012 Vendee, my ultimate goal in sailing,” Sharp said. “Currently we are looking for partners with which to progress to this exciting class next year, with which we can build beneficial, lasting relationships towards this pinnacle of ocean racing and one of the greatest challenges currently in the world today.”
Press info Tim Collins / www.philsharpracing.com
About Phil Sharp
Phil Sharp is one of Britain’s most successful young offshore sailors, winning the 2006 Route du Rhum solo transatlantic. He is first and only other Briton to win his class in this event since Ellen MacArthur.
Phil Sharp competed his first solo transatlantic in the 2005 Mini Transat, a single-handed race from France to Brazil in 21ft boats. He finished 4th out of 72 boats in the race, the second-best British result in this French event.
In 2007 Phil Sharp formed Phil Sharp Racing to manage his campaigns and support his bid to enter the 2012 Vendee Globe. They are currently searching for a title partner to run a 4-year IMOCA 60 campaign, which includes two round-the-world races and 4 transatlantics.
Figaro Transat AG2R
Start : 20 April 2008, Concarneau, Brittany
Finish : 9 – 13 May 2008, St Barts, Caribbean
The Figaro Transat AG2R is one of the top events within the famous Figaro circuit which attracts the most formidable of ocean racing talent and is known to be the most competitive class in solo sailing. The race is a double-handed transatlantic and the longest of the Figaro events, starting in the idyllic fishing port of Concarneau, Brittany and finishing in the glamorous Caribbean island of St Barts, a course distance of 3710 miles. Competitors are expected to take between 19 and 23 days to cross the Atlantic in these high performance 10m boats that can regularly exceed speeds of 20 knots. All boats are one-design, Beneteau Figaro’s therefore it is all down to the skipper to work the boat and the weather to his advantage in the quest for victory.
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