Top British Solitaire du Figaro finisher

Photos: Courcoux-Marmara/Le Figaro
Phil Sharp on his performance in this year's solo offshore marathon
18th overall in a fleet of 46 doesn’t sound that flash, but when it comes to La Solitaire du Figaro, in a class where competitors return year in year out ovr the course of a decade or more, the level is so high that 18th is considered a respectable result. This year’s Solitaire du Figaro saw Britain’s Phil Sharp scrap through in terms of scoring Britain’s best result in the effective world championship of singlehanded offshore racing in recent years. Leaving aside Clare Francis’ 5th place overall in 1975 when there were just 13 starters, Sharp finished just one ahead of Sam Davies’ 19th places in the 2003 and 2004 races. Davies still holds the prize for being the top British Solitaire first timer/bizuth ever, finishing second in this class in 2003. His 18th place puts him ahead of 2009 Mini Transat winner Thomas Ruyant, the highly rated Charlie Dalin and 2001 Solitaire winner Eric Drouglazet. Now in Dieppe post-finish, the Figaro sailors are maintaining their sleep deprivation but through parties, culminating in the mega-fest due to take place on Saturday. Yesterday a seven strong team of Figaro sailors beat the local Dieppe team in a football match. Today they are going 'chariot' racing. “I think I am happy with my performance first time out, happy to be up there in touch with the lead group, considering there wasn’t the optimum amount of preparation time and I picked up the boat quite late and not having a full training program over the spring,” comments Sharp. “Looking back I know that there were a few mistakes that were made due to a lack of preparation like when I broke the prop shaft and was penalised 20 minutes on the first leg and then I picked up a massive clump of weed on the second leg and