At 14:30 yesterday the Royal Navy frigate HMS Kent fired the starter’s gun for The Transat bakerly, the oldest solo transatlantic race formed in 1960. Phil took a sharp start, quickly moving into 2nd place and has since been leading the Class 40 fleet into the North Atlantic.

“I’m so relieved to be out here. It’s taken a huge amount of work to get to the start line of this race and now I am here I can focus on getting back in the grove of offshore sailing and away from my desk!” Phil reported.

The 3000 mile passage to New York forces skippers to make and commit to one decision only, to go north or south. The northern route traditionally thought to be faster is not the case in this year’s edition of May weather systems. The southern route has proven more advantageous and all but 1 skipper have ventured south and offshore from the Bay of Biscay. A special entry by racing legend Loick Peyron is sailing the 1964 Pen Duick II, a 44ft wooden ketch in the same trim as she was when Eric Tabarly raced her to victory in the OSTAR. Peyron has taken the “calmer” northern route and is expected to reach New York in 27 days, almost double that of the Class 40 fleet.

“Based on the weather models the average prediction revealed a less exposed and faster route to choose south. It looks like the rest of the competitors thought the same, let’s hope the forecast sticks and we don’t get in after Peyron on Pen Duick!” Phil reported.

Holding 1st place in his Class, Phil pushed Imerys south keeping west of the fleet, and is now leading the Class into the North Atlantic. Miles from the shorts and t-shirt Transat Jacque Vabre and the Route du Rhum, crossing the North Atlantic is tough, with gruelling wet and windy conditions.

“My first night offshore has been quite rewarding, the boat is performing well in these conditions and I am actually having a great time and getting used to the aggressiveness of this racing machine. It’s a true thoroughbred Class40, which comes with racing characteristics, slamming very loud into each wave.” Phil reported.

Today, 3rd May, at 09h59 BST, The Transat bakerly Race Control received a call from the skipper Maxime Sorel aboard the Class40 VandB. He had a serious collision with a cargo ship, and the bowsprit has been damaged, with potential damage to the rig, which is still standing up. The skipper is not injured, and he will now head to La Trinité sur Mer, or Lorient, to assess the damage.

“Really gutted to hear of Maxime’s collision, he’s a seriously good sailor and I’ve been enjoying racing with him. It’s a massive shame. All I can do is wish him a safe journey back to land.” Reported Phil.