“one man, one boat, the ocean”

It’s been 10 years since Sharp raced to victory in his last solo transatlantic, the Route du Rhum. Now, Sharp is back to take on the oldest and most gruelling transatlantic race of all, The Transat bakerly. This 3,000 mile voyage from Plymouth to New York next takes place on May 2nd.

In 1960, 18 years before the founding of the French Route du Rhum race, a handful of British sailors made a bet to see who could sail the fastest across the Atlantic, solo. Chichester was the first to arrive in New York after 40 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes at sea. 56 years later, Sharp will be aiming to break the Class 40 time of 16 days, 22 hours, 11 minutes and 27 seconds, set in 2008. Sharp will be competing against 11 Class 40’s and joining The Transat’s 6 IMOCA’s, 5 Multi50’s, and 3 Ultimes, the fastest multihulls today.

Few professional solo sailors are prepared to take on the challenge of The Transat. The east-west transatlantic course is a contest dominated by stormy weather systems, headwinds, high seas, icebergs, and even whales. With outside assistance forbidden, this race is a true test for man and boat.

“Before I started offshore racing I had read about the dramatic experiences of Pete Goss and Ellen MacArthur competing in The Transat, for me it was just a distant dream. The raw brutality and challenge of the race is what I find so appealing, it is without doubt the toughest of all transats. As well as being single-handed, skippers have to fight their way to New York through the intense North Atlantic depressions, usually against winds and currents. It will be an amazing adventure in itself, and being a part of the largest fleet, the Class 40, will also make for really exciting competition.” commented Sharp.

Just 10 days after Sharp’s Vendee campaign deadline passed, making the switch to a Class 40 platform has left the days pass by with a blink of the eye. It can only be fortune that the highly competitive ex-GDF Suez ‘Mach 40’  boat became available very recently, which Sharp has swiftly jumped aboard.

With just 20 days until the blast of The Transat bakerly start gun in Plymouth, the job list for Sharp’s team is vast. Sharp must be on the start line for The Transat bakerly Warm-Up race on the 23rd, but first the team must prepare the boat and Sharp must qualify by sail. A thorough overhaul of the boat has meant a detailed check of all the safety equipment, sourcing of alternative sails, fitting new ocean-worthy rigging, the laborious and time-consuming de-branding, and installing cutting-edge solar panels to capture energy for the crossing.

“There hasn’t been an official Transat for 8 years now, and after missing 2008 I vowed to myself that I would be a part of the next race with a competitive entry. When our plans changed very recently we decided there may just be enough time to get to the start line in a Class 40. It has been a serious fight to get to where we are, and although we have secured a great boat, we still have several obstacles to overcome. The first daunting one is that I have to head straight out into a windy ocean today to complete the 1,000 mile qualifying requirements. I have only sailed the boat once, so I just hope everything works and that the weather is not too unkind!” commented Sharp.

Today Sharp will set sail to complete the 1,000 mile qualifier for The Transat bakerly. Estimated as a 5 day sail enabling Sharp to firm-up his hands in time for the Atlantic crossing.