Phil Sharp aiming for the Vendee Globe

Photos: Soline Le Grand
Top British solo sailor intends to use a Figaro campaign in 2014 to jump up to greater things...
One of the most talented British shorthanded offshore racers of his generation is returning to the high seas this season. After some solid results in the Mini class, Phil Sharp won the Class40 in the 2006 Route du Rhum and in 2011 finished 18th in La Solitaire du Figaro on his first and, to date, only attempt – the highest British result in solo offshore racing’s effective world championship, until this result was eclipsed last year by Sam Goodchild. The 32 year old Jersey sailor is currently training in Lorient alongside the Artemis Offshore Academy squad in a camp run by leading French shorthanded offshore coach Tanguy Leglatin. However this year’s Figaro campaign he hopes will lead on to greater things. “My principle object is to be on the start line of the next Vendée Globe,” Sharp says. “If you work back from that and you want to do a competitive campaign, you have to get into the IMOCA championship ideally this year in order to put together a Barcelona World Race campaign which is crucial experience for a Vendee. That gives you the time to build up a relationship with a sponsor and with a technical team and to have everything in place by the time you reach the Vendée.” A season in the Figaro is the stepping stone up to this. “It is clearly the best class for training for offshore sailing in general. It is a great solo sailing class for really enhancing all the strategic, tactical, navigational and tuning skills required in the bigger classes. For me, it is a good opportunity to get back into an offshore training circle and start honing my skills for the next years ahead.” Aside from that the Solitaire du Figaro, the Figaro class’ premier event, is also singlehanded offshore racing’s most competitive