Please select your home edition
Noble Marine 2019 - Leaderboard

Phil Sharp and OceansLab – Mission to win on the global racecourse with clean energy

by Emily Caroe 19 Sep 2019 21:33 BST
British sailor Phil Sharp announces four-year racing programme to demonstrate vital zero-carbon fuel technologies. © Olivier Blanchet

The British single-handed sailor Phil Sharp has today announced an ambitious four-year programme of racing using clean energy.

Sharp is one of Britain's most successful solo racers and in his Class 40 monohull has set two world records, has been on the podium in three solo transatlantic races in the last two seasons and has been world champion in Class 40 for two years in succession.

Now the tenacious 38-year-old sailor from Jersey, but based in La Rochelle on the French Biscay coast, is aiming to compete in the IMOCA Globe Series.

This includes the fully-crewed global Ocean Race in 2021, followed by two transatlantic races; the 2022 solo Route du Rhum, and the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in 2023. Sharp's ultimate objective is to compete in sailing's Mount Everest, the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race in 2024.

The plan is to build a state-of-the-art boat next year to be called OceansLab featuring the latest in foiling design and clean energy technology. To fund the build Sharp is looking to bring in new partners who can benefit not only from being part of an epic sporting journey, but also the results of testing innovative energy generation and storage systems in the maritime environment.

Alongside continuing partners from his Class 40 racing project, Edilians Group, the largest supplier of roofing tiles in France, is today joining as a Development Partner of OceansLab. Edilians Group is developing advanced storage solutions for solar roof tiles and will evaluate performance results from operation in the hostile oceanic race environment on board OceansLab.

While winning is the sporting focus, of equal importance to Sharp is his mission to use his new campaign to demonstrate vital zero-carbon fuel technologies.

"The two big global ocean races are a huge opportunity and very exciting for the OceansLab project because the IMOCA race boats are innovative and cutting edge, giving us the perfect platform to pioneer clean energy technologies and demonstrate that we can win races with zero carbon emissions," said Sharp.

In his final Class 40 events next year aboard OceansLab (formerly Imerys Clean Energy) Sharp will be demonstrating a prototype hydrogen fuel cell in place of a diesel engine to generate power for the onboard communications and navigation systems.

A mechanical engineering master's graduate of Imperial College London, Sharp believes this technology can be adopted by larger scale commercial shipping and marine craft, reducing carbon emissions to zero.

"Ultimately I am sailing with the aim to win races but also to prove that we can win on zero emissions and with the latest technologies," he said. "On board OceansLab I will be pushing my boat hard to win, but also demonstrating renewable energy solutions to replace fossil fuel power on the ocean. The races I will be competing in will test the performance and durability of this technology in the toughest environment on earth."

He added that the sooner governments and businesses can advance zero carbon energy solutions the better for the future of the planet. "I think it is really good that people are now aware of the huge global challenge we face and also the time constraints involved because we are very late in starting to rectify the problem," he said. "It's really a race against time to cut emissions before we end up with a high risk of run-away climate change."

Sharp has established a reputation as a courageous, competitive and relentless solo racer who has nursed boats to the finish of races - and to the podium - when others might have thrown in the towel. He knows how to win and he believes he has the experience to make the step up to the IMOCA class.

"I'm really pleased with the progress we've made over the last few years in Class 40 and I feel like I've still got a huge amount to offer. The IMOCA 60s are waiting for me and I know I can apply a lot of what I've learnt over the last few years to IMOCA sailing and continue learning and developing my ocean racing," he said.

In May he'll be returning to compete in The Transat, the toughest of the transatlantics, this time routing from Brest to Charleston. The 2016 edition saw him lose out on a win due to a torn mainsail. Now Sharp's goal is simple - victory.

This year Sharp has become a father for the first time with the arrival of daughter Axelle, now two months old. The experience has only underlined to him that time is of the essence when it comes to global warming.

"We cannot leave the world in an irreversible mess for the next generation to deal with," he said. "I gain huge satisfaction from doing something tangible for the environment and having some impact from what I am doing on the water. It amplifies the interest and my relationship with the ocean by an order of magnitude."

Related Articles

Gaëtan Thomas aims for The Race Around!
Gaëtan aims to break the current solo, Class40 around the world speed record He's a guy for whom adventure is the ultimate calling. Gaëtan Thomas, aged 32, wants to beat the solo, non-stop, around the world speed record for a Class40. Posted on 29 May
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 Atlantic Cup cancelled due to COVID-19
Atlantic Cup Kids programming will be made available virtually It is with great regret that Manuka Sports Event Management announces the unavoidable cancellation of the 2020 Atlantic Cup, which was scheduled to take place June 5-21. Posted on 1 Apr
Phil Sharp shares top tips in living in isolation
Including staying positive, looking ahead, structure and routine Key messages can be transferred from ocean racing to land as people move into isolation to support the fight against COVID-19. Adapting to change is a daily routine for an offshore sailor. Posted on 26 Mar
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
Wrap-up film of the 2020 RORC Caribbean 600
A race to get addicted to View the 23 minute film of the 2020 RORC Caribbean 600 race. Includes interviews with competitors and winners from all classes across the fleet. Posted on 2 Mar
RORC Caribbean 600 overall
700 sailors from 37 countries gathered for a grand finale All of the participating teams were honoured with a personalised souvenir in the shape of decanters, suitably filled with English Harbour 5-year-old Rum! Posted on 29 Feb
RORC Caribbean 600 day overall race update
A fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion In the early hours of the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600 a fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion. In the 18-strong IRC One feet, after time correction and on the water, two yachts rose above the rest to fight for the class win Posted on 29 Feb
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
RORC Caribbean 600 first finisher interviews
The first boats have arrived back on the docks in Antigua Interviews with some of the early arrivals, including Multihull and Monohull Line Honours winners, and provisional class champions in the 12th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600. Posted on 28 Feb