Surfing in 25 knots across the north Atlantic

Phil Sharp reports from the Transat AG2R race course

Tuesday April 29th 2008, Author: Phil Sharp, Location: United Kingdom
Tuesday 29th April 2008
Day 9 of the AG2R race from Concarneau to St Barth, West Indies
Time of position: 0500 GMT
Latitude: 34 09.94' N Longitude: 23 37.47' W
Average Speed: 10.00 knots
Miles to go: 2,313.3
Fleet position: 9th out of 26 starters
Miles Behind Leader: 84.2

Since passing Madeira the fleet has well and truly split up, making it anyone's guess as to who has chosen the right path. Phil Sharp and David Krizek are in a line behind four other boats, heading directly west and for now remain the furthest north. There is a middle pack on a similar longitude who have also put in some southerly miles and the boats registering the back of the pack have dived south and are yet to come west. To the innocent eye, the mid pack could look best placed, but Mother Nature will play her usual games in determining the outcome of this unrelenting race. Phil remains happy that their more northerly route will enable them faster speeds for the first half of the Atlantic.

Phil reported in earlier in a lively mood, whilst enjoying their increase in fleet position and talked of how they are getting to know the boat and learning how to get faster speeds out of the boat each day.

"Well it has been a roller-coaster ride today, downwind in fast conditions, about 25 knots of wind, surfing down a big Atlantic swell, what better sailing conditions could you ask for? It is also encouraging we are still making up places! Boat speed is good currently, and I think we are catching Degremont, our next target - it is amazing how much we keep learning on the boat to make it go faster. As we figured at the start it would take us a while to get into this race starting on a boat relatively unknown to us, but now we are really getting our teeth round it and are now hungrier than ever for a top result, as well as a decent meal at the other end!

"We are now positioned near the front of the second pack in 9th place, having gained some places to a few of the guys who have gybed off south ahead of us. David has been doing a great job driving mostly throughout the day, whilst I've been spending quite a while on the weather and nav during the day and concentrating on the night driving. We do however cross over our sleep patterns (!) and today conversations have drifting from weather strategy to boat trim, to food, to future windsurfing holidays and back to food."

"We are sticking to a northerly course for the time being but it will be really interesting to see whether north or south will be faster in the long run. It looks as though the first half of the Atlantic will be fast for the northern pack, slow for the southern, and vice versa. From onboard we can't get any accurate forecast beyond a week in advance, so you are always gambling to an extent and have to go back to statistics of weather patterns and historical data to foresee what is likely to evolve. So yes basically
there is always a lot of guesswork!

"As I'm writing this the wind is rising and I'm due on the helm in 5 mins, looks like a dark night of plummeting down big waves into the unknown, I had better get some gear on! See ya. Phil"

Phil is sponsored by Dominion Fiduciary Services Ltd (DFSL) The Jersey based private trust administrator will become principle partner of Phil Sharp Racing with a view to supporting Sharp as he works towards his ultimate goal, an entry in the 2012 Vendée Globe.

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