Please select your home edition
Edition
Raymarine 2021 Element - LEADERBOARD

To hell and back: Phil Sharp finishes The Transat bakerly

by The Transat bakerly 22 May 2016 09:08 BST 22 May 2016

For some of the big multihull skippers The Transat bakerly was a most unusual race. Far from being a boat-breaking uphill test against storm force headwinds in the north Atlantic, they enjoyed a downwind romp more typical of races from Europe to the Caribbean.

But for others in the 24-strong fleet, the race lived up to its reputation as among the toughest in the professional calendar – a remorseless battle for boat and sailor against often horrendous sea conditions for days on end.

In the second category were most definitely the Class40s, the slowest boats in the fleet – not that they are slow in comparison to most ordinary cruising yachts. But the Class40s had no choice but to face the weather head-on, on the direct route from Plymouth to New York. For these skippers the option of heading into the deep-south was simply not available.

Britain's Phil Sharp took on that challenge and sailed a remarkable race. A talented and proven trans-ocean racer who won the Route du Rhum in the class in 2006 - he was very late in his preparation for The Transat bakerly, stepping on Imerys for the first time only three weeks before the start.

Four days before the fleet set sail, Sharp missed one of the last major skipper's briefings by race management because he had to travel from Plymouth to London to pick up his American visa in person. It was a last minute inconvenience that would have a big impact on his race.

Despite being rushed, Sharp set out to win The Transat bakerly and for much of the passage to Manhattan he was either leading or disputing the lead with the eventual winner Thibaut Vauchel-Camus on SoIidaires en Peloton-Arsep or Isabelle Joschke on Generali-Horizon Mixite, who eventually retired when her boat started taking on water.

Sharp pushed Imerys to the limits as he tackled the first big storm of the race and then subsequent depressions in the north-western Atlantic. Early in the race he paid for his absence at the skipper's briefing when he failed to comply with race rules forbidding competitors to sail through the Traffic Separation Scheme off Ushant. But even a subsequent mid-race six-hour stop-go penalty did not stop him fighting back to the front.

In the end, however, the battle of attrition with the Atlantic and the relentless pace took its toll on Imerys and began to compromise Sharp's performance. In addition to numerous minor gear failures, he had water coming in on a daily basis and spent hours bailing; he had charging issues; his forestay detached itself from the deck and then, in the final stages, his mainsail ripped in half, reducing it – as he put it – to little more than a flag.

He may have lost the battle for overall honours in the class but Sharp arrived in New York today the proud third-placed skipper on the Class40 podium behind Vauchel-Camus and second-placed Louis Duc on Carac. Sharp reached the finish off Sandy Hook one day, 11 hours and 48 minutes behind Vauchel-Camus. He had been at sea for 19 days and 31 minutes and had sailed a total of 3,798 nautical miles at an average speed of 8.32 knots.

On the dock he reflected on a tenacious performance and an experience that, he said, had changed him. "The race was always going to be tough, but I didn't know it was going to be that tough," he said. "The Transat has a history of extreme weather conditions, but we went through the worst conditions I've ever experienced and I think the Class40 fleet got hit the worst.

"The boat was quite new to me. I didn't have long to prepare and I always knew it was going to be tough and I would have some issues, but I wasn't expecting to have quite so many issues. I had a lot of problems with the sails and the weather out there was absolutely relentless. We got a hammering.

"I'm just so happy to be here in New York. There were a lot of things trying to stop us getting here, and even after the mainsail exploded I had power issues and the forestay became detached, so there was quite a lot going on to stop me. The fact I'm standing here right now and I'm on the podium, I'm very happy about indeed. It's a good as result as I could have ever expected given the preparation time I had."

Sharp added: "I feel in some ways that I've been to hell and back, but I'm a better person for it. It was a crazy race, but amazing and it's made it that much more special to be standing here in New York."

With the podium in Class 40s now complete, there are still four of the original 10 starters in the class out at sea. The next finisher will be either Edouard Golbery on Region Normandie who is currently just over 100 miles from New York in fourth place or Robin Marais on Esprit Scout who is less than 10 miles behind him in fifth.

Track the race here.

Transat bakerly 2016 podium positions:

ULTIME
1. François Gabart/Macif - 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds at sea
2. Thomas Coville/Sodebo - 8 days, 18 hours, 32 minutes and 2 seconds at sea
3. Yves Le Blevec/Actual - 10 days, 12 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds at sea

IMOCA 60
1. Armel Le Cléac'h/Banque Populaire - 12 days, 2 hours and 28 minutes and 39 seconds at sea
2. Vincent Riou/PRB - 12 days, 4 hours, 50 minutes and 11 seconds at sea
3. Jean-Pierre Dick/St Michel Virbac - 12 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 7 seconds at sea

MULTI50
1. Gilles Lamiré/French Tech Rennes St Malo - 12 days, 7 hours, 51 minutes and 17 seconds at sea
2. Lalou Roucayrol/Arkema - 14 days, 7 hours, 13 minutes, 20 seconds at sea
3. Pierre Antoine/Olmix - 16 days, 14 hours, 29 minutes, 23 seconds at sea

CLASS40
1. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus/Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP - 17 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes and 56 seconds at sea
2. Louis Duc/Carac - 17 days, 23 hours, 54 minutes, 40 seconds at sea
3. Phil Sharp/Imerys - 19 days, 31 minutes, 5 seconds at sea

Related Articles

Transat CIC 2020 cancelled
Due to the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic OC Sport Pen Duick, the French subsidiary of international event organiser OC Sport, have announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition of The Transat CIC, due to the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Posted on 28 Apr 2020
Excitement builds for The Transat CIC 2020
The stakes will be high for all of the classes With a new course and some of the world's best solo skippers wanting to test the water ahead of their Vendée Globe or Class40 preparations, the stakes will be high for all of the classes competing in the 60th anniversary edition of The Transat CIC. Posted on 6 Mar 2020
A very high-quality field set to start Transat CIC
The legendary passage across the North Atlantic starts in May The legendary passage across the North Atlantic has proven one of the most difficult challenges to the solo sailor over the last 60 years. Posted on 28 Feb 2020
The Transat welcomes CIC as Title Partner
For the 60th anniversary edition The race, which is owned and organised by OC Sport Pen Duick, the French subsidiary of international event organiser OC Sport, now officially becomes "The Transat CIC" for the 2020 and 2024 editions. Posted on 18 Oct 2019
Charleston confirmed as Official Finish City
The rigorous 3,500-mile Transat 2020 is ocean racing at its best The city of Charleston and race owners OC Sport Pen Duick are pleased to announce that the 2020 edition of The Transat, the world's oldest solo ocean sailing race, will finish in Charleston, South Carolina for the first time in the race's history. Posted on 15 Jul 2019
New direction for The Transat 2020
Brest confirmed as start city Starting in May, the 2020 edition will also see the race celebrate its 60th anniversary as the world's best solo sailors gather to race a gruelling 3,500-nautical miles across the North Atlantic to the USA. Posted on 26 May 2019
A Battle to Take Podium – The Inside Story
Phil Sharp recounts his Transat bakerly voyage Well, we did it, we reached the Big Apple in one piece... sort of. My faithful Mach 40 Imerys and I raced a total of 3798nm from Plymouth to New York. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of a journey to hell and back. Posted on 5 Jun 2016
As one race finishes the next is confirmed
The Transat bakerly concludes As The Transat bakerly 2016 came to an end yesterday – with the last finisher crossing the line off New York - the race owner and organiser, OC Sport Pen Duick, confirmed that it will be in the calendar for 2020. Posted on 26 May 2016
Thibaut Vauchel-Camus races to victory
First Class40 to the Big Apple in Transat bakerly At 03:12 BST, Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP skipper Thibaut Vauchel-Camus crossed The Transat bakerly finish line in New York, taking line honours in the highly competitive Class40 division. Posted on 20 May 2016
Peyron's tribute to Tabarly is cut short
Damage forces Loïck out of The Transat bakerly Today Loïck Peyron, skipper of Pen Duick II, informed The Transat bakerly Race Management that his nostalgic voyage from Plymouth to New York had come to an end following damage to his staysail which has torn off the bridge of his boat. Posted on 15 May 2016