Phil Sharp and Sam Manuard lead the Normandy Channel Race rounding the first four marks in 1st place.
A faultless race continues by Phil Sharp and co-skipper Sam Manuard. After rounding both the Isle of Wight and Wolf Rock in 1st place on Monday the duo implemented an alternative strategy successfully increasing distance with 2nd place and rounding both Tuskar Rock and Fastnet Rock in 1st place.
As fellow front runners headed west offshore from Cornwall, the duo raced to the south west coast of Wales enabling them to remain on one tack before rounding Tuskar Rock with a 3nm lead, which extended to over 10nm in the rapid approach to Fastnet Rock. Now, over half way back to Wolf Rock the duo are rocketing down waves with a lead of around 5nm in front of the speedy Tales II, Phil comments, “Last night was mad coming up to Fastnet in the dark, and the conditions are still massively intense. Since then we’ve had to change sails twice to downsize and better cope with the ever strengthening wind, which uses a huge amount of energy, especially because the sea is so rough as it forces you to work twice as hard.
“At the moment we are reaching at a really fast angle and the boat is just accelerating down waves with serious speed. The motion is awful, it’s really violent, we are being thrown around so much that sleeping is near impossible. We literally haven’t stopped, and the amount of winching is phenomenal, it’s physically exhausting.
“Under the circumstances we are doing our best to manage our energy, thinking ahead for strategic decisions, which makes things interesting when the weather forecast changes!”
The chaotic conditions have lead to a grand total of six retirements since Monday. The accumulation of the impact from the brutal sea state has caused a vast amount of damage of varying degrees amongst the fleet, where some have spent time going backwards to make repairs, a task Phil is well experienced at following the considerable faults dealt with in May’s remarkable solo Transat. Phil continues, “Currently we’re screaming down a wave at 20knots, and averaging speeds between 18-19knots, it’s insane, the boat is like a wild animal! It’s seriously windy, rough, and the sky is grey and dull. We didn’t expect this amount of wind as the forecast completely underestimated the force, but it’s definitely an exciting surprise!”
As the ‘richer get richer’ the drag race continues to stretch the current 312nm distance between 1st and last place. The duo are currently reviewing tactics to keep ahead of the fast Tales II and pass through the next navigational challenge, Phil continues, “Going forward the forecast has changed for the worse, giving us more upwind through the Scilly Islands and Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) course. Getting through this cleanly will rely on sound tactics as we will probably have to make multiple tacks, and each tack could be the difference between losing or gaining miles”.
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.