British sailor Phil Sharp will commence qualifying trials for Route du Rhum tomorrow 19/9/06

British sailor Phil Sharp will hopefully start his qualifying trials for the forthcoming Route du Rhum tomorrow. He is currently awaiting a weather window and will probably set sail tomorrow evening

The 26 year old Jersey based sailor will be determined to find the kind of weather that will enable him to push his boat – to the extreme and find out what she is capable of in strong winds.

Speaking from La Collette Marina in Jersey just before he set off an up beat Sharp said: “We must do a 1,000-mile course and have been analysing the weather quite closely and fixing our game plan around that. The week ahead is looking pretty unsettled with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence lurking around, so ideally I would quite like to keep away from this! It looks like I’ll be going from Jersey up to Land’s End then all the way south across Biscay to a waypoint off the north Spanish coast, where it should get a bit breezy but will not go ballistic. I will then be doing an anticlockwise tour around Biscay before heading back up to Ushant and then home to Jersey.

“I’m looking forward to getting some solo miles under my belt again and seeing how the boat handles in the strong Atlantic winds. I primarily need to really find out the boat’s true potential in lively downwind weather. I know that the boat, with its wide stern and flat bottom is definitely a downwind flier and can hold a huge amount of sail when it is off the wind, so I hope to be doing quite a bit of spinnaker work. It will be a matter of playing around a lot, sticking everything up and seeing what happens until the boat wipes out, and get familiar with sailing the boat on the edge from day to day.

“After sailing the boat fully crewed in the Round Britain this solo passage will definitely be interesting since I have to learn how to do the jobs of 6 crew members by myself, preferably simultaneously – and unfortunately I don’t get to go off watch! Being alone for a week will definitely be quite tough, especially since I am the only boat doing this course – that makes you feel properly isolated. What I am especially not looking forward to is the lack of sleep that always comes with single-handed sailing, typically 2-3 hours per night, but in a way this will be good practice for the Rhum. We’ve also made quite a lot of alterations to the boat over the last month and it will be good to put things to the test during this passage.”

Sharp hopes to finish the course by the beginning of next week and will then continue preparation towards the Route du Rhum, which starts from St Malo on the 29 October. Sharp will compete in offshore racing’s new up-and-coming class; the Class 40′, in his Groupe Finot-designed Pogo 40.