More than sixty five miles into his 620 miles challenge to set a record for sailing from Lands End to John O’Groats. Phil Sharp and crew, Sean Conway and Alex Alley, have made good progress since starting at Land’s End at 0855hrs UTC this (Friday) morning. Initially breezes were quite favourable and the three man crew had a period of brisk sailing under gennaker and spinnaker, but this afternoon the wind has gone a little ahead (in direction) as they start to pass the latitude of Pembrokeshire and West Wales.
For Jersey based Sharp, who has spent most of the last two years chained to his computer and presenting in boardrooms as he seeks to fund his 2016-17 Vendée Globe Energy Challenge, the sheer release of being back at sea, pushing a Class40 hard in solid, tough weather conditions, is in itself almost overpowering.
Although there is some pressure attached to sailing on a boat he has only made about 200 miles on so far, and with a crew he has never sailed with until last night (Thursday) – including ultimate responsibility for non-sailing adventurer Sean ‘The Beard’ Conway, Sharp is clearly loving being away from the computer and the desk, pressing north under sail.
“It is just great to be out here again. I wanted to be doing some extreme sailing this winter and so it feels so good to be doing this. The guys have been great. The breeze just now is a little further ahead of the direction we thought we would get and so that is just a bit frustrating, but we are going well. It has been gusty and with some big seas it is hard work and we have all been busy most of the time.”
Despite his loud assertions that he would almost certainly suffer from sea-sickness Conway has already proven a valuable member of the crew, helping with sail changes – of which there have been several – and even appearing from below deck with some unexpected delicacies – olives and strawberries. Aspiring to add a length of Britain sailing passage to this ultimate ‘triathlon’ running, cycling, and swimming the length of the country, Conway has already shown his mettle on board.
“Despite everything he said Sean had not ‘chundered’ yet even despite our diet of porridge and cold Cornish pasties – what we’d consider a proper menu for Land’s End to John O’Groats you’d have to say.” Sharp laughs during his afternoon call to his challenge HQ.
“Now we feel the breeze will drop into the evening and night which is really what we don’t want, but that’s sailing, there will be more wind in the east and so we will likely be closer to the Welsh coast tonight rather than Ireland. But we have been preparing for the changes and transitions making sure we get rested. The next thing after that is watching how a new low pressure evolves. But it’s all good!”