Please select your home edition
Zhik Yachting Range

Intense week of training for Phil Sharp

by Phil Sharp Racing on 16 Apr 2014
Phil Sharp in action Phil Sharp Racing
Check out the latest from sailor Phil Sharp on the intense week of endurance training.

We recently had one of the most intense week of offshore race training of all our preparation to date this year. Over seven days we covered some 800 miles of racing around Brittany, the English Channel, Jersey, and along the south coast of England.

This is the offshore domain where the real Figaro training begins: battling against choppy seas and strong currents, tacking within a boat length of the rocks, constantly trying to squeeze more speed out of the boat, whilst also looking for some time to eat and sleep.

As part of the 12 or so boats I have been training out of Lorient during the winter, we started from this ocean racing capital of France for an initial overnight leg out to northwest Brittany. From here the sailing got really interesting as we were then faced with an upwind struggle along the north coast of Brittany. I’d forgotten just how physical but rewarding it is tacking up this coast against the tide, and how precise you have to be with your navigation.

Striking the right balance is key: sail too far from the shore and you end up in stronger foul tide; too close, or a momentary lapse of concentration, and you could be on the rocks. Inevitably how close you decide to go comes down to risk management and your nerves.

Later that night we rounded the mighty Jersey as part of our route up to Cherbourg. Prior to our departure I convinced the group that it would make for some interesting tactical sailing, as there are plenty of rocks to play with along the south coast of the island. I was also hoping to organise a wave to my girlfriend as I sailed by, but unfortunately I arrived there about 3am so I decided to let her sleep! I watched instead the floodlit Mont Orgueil Castle move past, which is always an impressive sight, particularly when viewed from the sea.

The next morning we arrived off Cherbourg, one-by-one, after a night close reaching up to the Alderney Race. This had made sleeping difficult and I was dead-beat by the time we arrived. Incidentally we were now only down to four boats as the Artemis group had peeled off earlier to go directly to Plymouth, and a couple of French boats had stopped in their local ports for various repairs. Survival of the fittest it was!

The four of us then dived north for a demanding spinnaker reach right across the Channel to the Needles Fairway buoy off the Isle of Wight. From there we sailed all the way along the South Coast to Plymouth, our stopover port, some 450 miles of sailing since Lorient. Needless to say the pub fish and chips and pint we had in Sutton Harbour felt very well-earned and I was looking forward to a proper night’s rest before heading all the way back to Lorient.

After a good shop for British food I miss so much in France, like malt loaf and pork pies (you have to treat yourself occasionally!), we were off again, heading west around Lizard Point and then on to Wolf Rock.

It was a fast, wet and wild reach down to Wolf after sunset, and we then headed south across the channel once more for a mark off Roscoff.

On this leg I had a close call with a fishing boat that I wouldn’t like to repeat. As I had a bit of a cushion at the front of the fleet I was taking the opportunity to sleep quite a bit, whilst keeping an eye on the AIS (Automatic Identification System), having already passed through the shipping lanes. After waking up I heard some chatter on the VHF to hear that apparently I had sailed two metres in front of the bow of a fishing trawler, who had apparently had to go fully astern to avoid hitting me. This hit home instantly the every present danger of a reliance on using AIS for primary navigation, which many commercial vessels still don’t have. One simply can’t afford to be relaxed about doing a thorough, regular visual check on the boats around you, which is why solo sailors mustn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. This exact problem, a reliance on technology that is not yet widespread, was sadly to blame for a retirement in the last Vendee Globe.

Our training ended with a very enjoyable spinnaker reach from Penmarch point back to Lorient where there was just enough wind to get the boat onto the plane, which really brought a smile to my face – it is not every day you plane on a heavy Figaro! I managed to overtake three boats on this stretch to finish in second place behind Adrien Hardy in Lorient. Although I also finished second to him on the leg up to Cherbourg, I was also happy to win a couple of stages during the week including the overnight sail along the south coast between Needles and Start Point, and the return trip across the English Channel from Lizard to Roscoff. Overall, it was a seriously valuable week of training on all fronts that I feel has definitely upped my game and highlighted the key areas I really need to focus on. Lastly, when racing between France and England, never underestimate the power of the Phil Sharp Racing

C-Tech Emirates 2014North Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

MAPFRE set the Volvo Ocean Race bar with overall Leg Zero victory
Newer teams know they have more work to do, but there are still plenty of positives to take from the progress they made Charlie Enright’s Vestas 11th Hour Racing became the third team to grab a victory from four stages in Leg Zero – a series of pre-race qualifying stages for the next edition of the round-the-world race – as they sneaked ahead of MAPFRE in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Posted on 16 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race – MAPFRE seal overall Leg Zero victory
ast-improving Vestas 11th Hour Racing took the stage win with the shortest Distance to Finish at 0430 UTC. The decision to call a halt to the racing came late on Tuesday night as the stage had become a drifting contest, with the teams making a series of expensive gybes in a bid to find some wind, and latest ETAs predicting that the boats would not reach Lisbon until well into Thursday.
Posted on 16 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race – What the skippers say
What a start to 2017-18 Leg Zero has given us! It's been exciting, intense, frustrating – and a great form guide We had an email a couple of hours ago from Race Control saying that the forecast was no wind at all and they decided to shorten the race which I think is a good decision because this Leg Zero was already becoming quite long and we are looking forward to finish and have a good rest.
Posted on 16 Aug
Seventh race sees Swuzzlebubble edge ahead at Half Ton Classics Cup
In a clear statement of intent for remainder of the regatta, Phil Plumtree’s Swuzzlebubble found form on the second day In a clear statement of intent for the remainder of the regatta, Phil Plumtree’s Swuzzlebubble found form on the second day of racing at the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale with two wins and two second places during a long day afloat sailed in ideal conditions.
Posted on 16 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race - MAPFRE invest in west – and it's looking best
With the exception of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, fleet remained close together to the east of front throughout the night With the exception of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, the fleet remained close together to the east of the front throughout the night, experiencing light northeasterly winds as they sailed down wind towards Cape Finisterre.
Posted on 16 Aug
France annihilates Rolex Fastnet Race competition for a third time
The Royal Ocean Racing's biennial flagship event attracted another record-sized fleet of 362 boats, six more than 2015. As ever the course took the giant fleet west down the English Channel, either side of the prohibited 'traffic separation scheme' zone between Land's End and the Scilly Isles, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, four miles off southwest Ireland, back south leaving Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles to port and then, on past the Lizard, to the finish off Plymouth - in total 605 nautical miles.
Posted on 15 Aug
Panerai Newport Classic Yacht Regatta returns for 38th edition
Public is invited to enjoy Newport Harbor and the timeless beauty of the classic yachts on display in the IYRS marina For the first time, immediately following the Herreschoff Classic Yacht Regatta, Newport Classic Yacht Regatta competitors will compete in a point-to-point race from Bristol to Newport.
Posted on 15 Aug
2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race - Leg Zero - Light wind as calms continue
The fleet restarted on Monday morning from the south coast of Brittany in the same order they finished yesterday The fleet restarted on Monday morning from the south coast of Brittany in the same order they finished yesterday, so it was no surprise to see MAPFRE and Vestas 11th Hour Racing take an early lead.
Posted on 15 Aug
2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race - And they're off!
The fleet restarted fourth and final stage of Leg Zero at 0615 UTC on Monday – with boats spread just over five minutes The fleet restarted the fourth and final stage of Leg Zero at 0615 UTC on Monday – with the boats spread just over five minutes apart from front to back.
Posted on 15 Aug
Three races begin Half Ton Classics Cup but no runaway leaders
Just two points separate first to fourth places and the regatta is set to be a cliff-hanger. Consistent sailing by Nigel Biggs on his newly-refurbished Checkmate XVIII put the British team at the top of the leaderboard of the Euro Car Parks Half Ton Classics Cup at Kinsale after a rain-soaked opening day. However, just two points separate first to fourth places and the regatta is set to be a cliff-hanger.
Posted on 14 Aug