Phil Sharp confirms Solitaire participation

Four Brits to compete in August's singlehanded offshore race

Friday July 22nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Artemis Offshore Academy member Phil Sharp will be the fourth British entrant on the start line of the Solitaire du Figaro later this month. Skippering his chartered Beneteau Figaro 2 The Spirit of Independence, Sharp will be joining 48 other solo sailors in Perros-Guirec on 31 July for the 1,700 mile, month-long, four-leg race around Northern France and up to Ireland and back.

Sharp, 30, spent the winter training on the Artemis Offshore Academy’s Classe Figaro Beneteau yachts with the aim of being to compete in this year’s Solitaire as the next step in his offshore sailing career. Only recently has he managed to combine the assistance of the Academy, a generous private donation and the support of Glenfarclas Whisky, to confirm his place on the start line. Sharp secured the race entry fee when he won this year’s Solo Basse Normandie Race, his second Figaro class win this season having also won the Solo Grande Motte race in the south of France in April.

“Although I now have some strong solo sailing experience having competed in both the Mini Transat and Route du Rhum, the Solitaire’s shorter sprint legs require a different pace than I am used to,” explained Sharp. “In the longer races I get into a good rhythm after about three days, but in this race you don’t get that opportunity, so it is very easy to push too hard and your body can shut down on you before the finish. There is always an excuse to stay awake and keep the boat racing faster but with little recovery time between legs you have to be very careful as the cumulative effect of sleep deprivation grows over the four weeks that we’ll be competing.”

This will be the first time that Sharp has competed in the Solitaire du Figaro, which many view as the unofficial offshore world championship of solo offshore racing. “I am proud to join fellow British Artemis Offshore Academy skippers Nigel King, Conrad Humphreys and Sam Goodchild, with special thanks to the Academy that we are all here," continued Sharp. "I hope that by the time we all arrive in Dieppe we’ll have something to celebrate, and I’m sure with Glenfarclas’ support we’ll be able to do that in style!”

Sharp still hopes to add additional sponsors to his campaign to complete his budget: “By combining my prize of an entry to this great race with the support of the Artemis Offshore Academy (a loan of new race sails), a generous private donation and the support of Glenfarclas, I’ve managed to clear the first hurdle that many solo sailors have to face; actually reaching the start line. I am still continuing to look for further backing to cover race expenses, and although this has eaten into my training programme this year, it is important to be able to look for partners to continue to a full racing programme in 2012."

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