February 2007

Phil Sharp (GBR)

More fortunate was English skipper Phil Sharp, who defeated a tough fleet to take the Class 40 prize in this year’s Route du Rhum, with a healthy margin over second-placed finisher and professional Figaro racer Gildas Morvan. To add significance to Sharp’s victory, his was the only entry in this year’s Class 40 fleet not to enjoy the support of a title sponsor. Twenty-four other Class 40 sponsors might bear this in mind.
 Why they won
Wow! A monster turnout voted for the clearly popular Channel Islands-based winner of the first major Class 40 prize – in the 2006 Route du Rhum. Sailing a production Groupe Finot-designed Pogo 40, Sharp rapidly cleared out from his tough fleet of rivals after choosing a northerly route early in the race and finding sustained fast but rough conditions. He also did a good job of promoting the international appeal of this fast-growing class, proving in its very first major event that you need neither a French surname nor a large budget to be successful. Many trailing Sharp into Guadeloupe had far more funding and several were racing more expensive custom designs; Sharp proving yet again that in shorthanded ocean racing it is about having enough rather than the most speed, thereafter it is all down to the man or woman driving the bus. Very positive stuff!