• Following victory in the 2017 Class 40 Championship, Phil Sharp and Imerys are back to defend the 2018 Championship title;
  • Phil returns for the Route du Rhum, the world’s most famous transatlantic race after his notable win 12 years ago;
  • 2018 highlight’s solo racing with three single-handed, and two crewed events.

Winning the 2017 Class 40 Championship can only mean one thing this year for skipper Phil Sharp – to defend his title. With the 2018 season culminating in the infamous Route du Rhum, preparation is focussed on sailing single-handed. After storming back on to the Class 40 scene two years ago with a podium finish in the gruelling solo Transat bakerly, Phil is qualified for the Route du Rhum.

Confronted with the arrival of additional latest generation Class 40 boats, repeating the success of last year will certainly fit Phil’s constant pursuit for a challenge. This, coupled with the demands of solo racing is expected to make the battle to win the 2018 Championship a bittersweet cocktail of relentless endurance, strategic genius, 24/7 maximum boat speed, and punishing sleep deprivation. However, though Phil may not be equipped with the fastest boat, his reputation for sheer determination and personal drive should not be looked upon lightly by competitors.

This season’s pinnacle, the fiercely competitive Route du Rhum is a solo race from St Malo to Guadeloupe, starting on the 4th of November and will mark the event’s 40th anniversary. A significant 120 boats across six race Classes are expected on the start line, and once again, Class 40 will represent the largest fleet with 50 entries.

2006 established the first year for a Class 40 division in this race, and after competing in just one solo race, the 2005 Mini Transat, Phil made it to the start line of the Route du Rhum to join a fleet of 25 boats. 18 days 10 hours 21 minutes 18 seconds later, Phil crossed the finish line in Guadeloupe almost a whole day ahead of second place.

Racing aboard Imerys Clean Energy, Phil will be competing in four events prior to November’s grand-slam. The season kicks off with a solo warm-up in just over two weeks on the 23rd of April, the 1000 Milles des Sables, where skippers will be provided with the race route just days before. A month later on the 27th of May Phil returns to the battle of the Channel, with the double-handed Normandy Channel Race. After winning last year’s edition in record breaking time, the core objective will be to defend this race win for 2018. July 21st Phil will return to solo configuration for the Drheam Cup from La Trinité-sur-Mer to Cherbourg, after rounding Fastnet Rock. Importantly, this race will represent the final showdown of solo preparation amongst the Class 40s prior to the Route du Rhum, and ahead of the final crewed race of the year, the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race, starting on the 12 of August.

Track Phil Sharp and Imerys Clean Energy in this year’s Championship here and follow on social media for regular updates.

2017 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / ALeA / TJV17

Route du Rhum Race Route, philsharpracing.com