• Phil Sharp and Sam Manuard lead the 27 strong fleet in the first day of the race
  • Phil and Sam compete for the first time in the race and as a team
  • Spirits on board are high

Yesterday at 17:00 local time Phil Sharp and co-skipper Sam Manuard on Imerys crossed the start-line neck to neck with fellow leaders Tales II and ARSEP, just hours later the team moved into 1st place leading the 27 strong fleet in the first day of the Normandy Channel Race.

Making the strategic decision to stay further offshore Phil and Sam gained the lead early in the race, taking the fleet offshore across the Channel to the UK, where they are currently averaging 12kts on a rough coastal journey down to Land’s End, which they expect to reach during the night. Phil comments, “Our strategy was based on achieving more wind offshore, this helped us make some miles on the fleet before we pulled away across the Channel. We are both focussed on getting the maximum out of the boat and have been pushing very hard since the start, but it’s incredibly wet!”

As predicted the race is living up to its reputation of intense close racing with the fleet clustered in a zone covering 40nm. At the front of the pack the distance between boats averages just a few miles, representing the intensity of high endurance racing that the skippers are facing over the 1000nm course. Phil continues, “All the best competition from Class 40 are in this event so I expect close racing will continue the whole way round. There are at least seven boats definitely up there to win it, so we will be doing all we can to find that edge to keep us at the front”.

After the first night offshore the fleet are slowly settling into their sleep routines, essential to manage for sustained performance. Phil comments, “Our first night offshore was very intense, I have just come off the helm and probably averaged about an hour’s sleep since the race started. It takes a while to get into a routine, and I am just about to try and get some rest now. Otherwise, spirits on board are nice and relaxed with Sam, he’s such a calm and collected guy to sail with, which is really delightful actually.

“I’ve got to go, Sam’s knocking…”


The Normandy Channel Race started on Sunday the 11th of September at 17:00 local time offshore of Ouistreham outside of the Caen canal. Follow the team throughout the race with the Geovoile live tracker, news updates, and social media, all accessed through the official website at www.philsharpracing.com. The official race website can be found at www.normandy-race.com.

Credit Carole Astier