“ The raw brutality of the race is what I find so appealing. There is no doubt it is the toughest of all the transatlantic races. ”
Marking 10 years since his victory in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe transatlantic race in 2006, Sharp returns to the Class40 to take on the 3,000-mile solo race across the north Atlantic.
“There hasn’t been an official Transat for eight years now and, after missing the 2008 edition, I vowed to myself that I would be a part of the next race with a competitive entry,” said Sharp, who hails from Jersey.
Sharp joins fellow British skippers Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) in the Class40 fleet and Richard Tolkien (44) in IMOCA 60s, among the 26 sailors who will take on the north Atlantic alone, starting at 1430 on May 2nd from Plymouth Sound.
Following the decision that he would not be on the 2016 Vendée Globe startline earlier this week, Sharp’s attentions turned fully to The Transat bakerly.
“When my plans changed very recently, I decided there may just be enough time to get to The Transat startline in a Class40,” he said. “It has been a serious fight to get to where we are, and although we have secured a great boat, we still have several obstacles to overcome.”
With just 20 days until the start gun sounds in Plymouth, the race is now on to prepare Sharp’s boat for the transatlantic epic. But first he needs to qualify for the race.
“Following the announcement of my entry today, I’m heading straight out onto the windy ocean to complete my 1,000-mile qualifying passage,” he said. “I have only sailed the boat once, so I just hope everything works and that the weather is not too unkind!”
Sailing west offshore from Lorient and into the Bay of Biscay, then ending in Saint-Malo, the passage is expected to take up to five days to complete, leaving Sharp just a week before the fleet gathers in Saint-Malo for The Transat bakerly warm-up – a non-timed leg to Plymouth starting 23rd April.
Sharp’s boat is the highly-competitive ex-GDF Suez. The yacht is undergoing a thorough overhaul to prepare it for the race, including a detailed check of its safety equipment, the sourcing of alternative sails, fitting new rigging and installing solar panels.
Inspired by the history and challenge of a classic race, first won by Sir Francis Chichester in 1960, Sharp is fulfilling a lifelong ambition by taking part.
“Before I even started out in offshore sailing, I had read about the experiences of Pete Goss and Ellen MacArthur in The Transat. At that point for me, it was just a distant dream,” he revealed.
“The raw brutality of the race is what I find so appealing. There is no doubt it is the toughest of all the transatlantic races. As well as being a single-handed race, skippers have to fight their way to New York through intense north Atlantic depressions and usually against wind and currents.”
Sharp’s entry brings the number of Class40’s competing in the race to 12.
“The Transat will be an amazing adventure in itself and being part of the Class40s, the largest class in the race, will make for exciting competition,” he concluded.