Phil sharp heads Class 40 fleet after tactical decisions pay off 6/11/06

British sailor Phil Sharp took the lead in Class 40 of the Route du Rhum this morning after overtaking the French sailor Gildas Morvan who has led the race from the start.

After a poor start on Sunday 29 October, Sharp gradually worked his way up the fleet by taking a northerly route and enjoying better conditions. After the majority of the fleet headed south over the weekend, Sharp’s decision to keep north seems to be paying off.

The latest position report, posted at noon (CET), has Sharp 13 miles ahead with 1,910 miles to the finish. Speaking from him boat this morning Sharp said: “It’s great when a plan comes together. It was a last minute decision to keep heading north of the line and for a while it was bit worrying as everyone else headed south but I’m glad we took that decision now. My plan is to keep going until the next frontal system comes in then tack south and enjoy some down wind sailing into the Caribbean.

“I’m really happy with the way things have panned out and enjoying this race more than any other I’ve sailed. I’ve learned a lot and feel I’m improving all the time. I’ve learned the hard way not to have too much sleep at any time other wise you just feel tired all the time. I need to keep alert as I’ve got a lot of sail changes coming up when the next weather system comes in.

“The only problem I’ve had so far was last night when the genoa bracket couldn’t take the strain any more and fractured. I’ll have to get up the mast at some point today but at the moment I’m enjoying 20 knots of wind so will wait until thing die down a bit.”

Sharp (25) is due to arrive at the finish in Guadeloupe in six days. First place at this stage is a fantastic achievement for Sharp who is sailing in his first Route du Rhum. A good finish in the race will put him in a good position to realise his dream of taking part in the 2008 Vendee Globe.