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.