Phil Sharp launches campaign for Figaro transat and entry into France's premier offshore sailing 13/3/08

British yachtsman and Route du Rhum winner Phil Sharp has announced his entry into the Figaro circuit, one of the world’s most competitive offshore sailing arenas, based out of France.

Phil will compete with Czech Republic’s offshore sailor David Krizek in the biennial double-handed transatlantic race, the Transat AG2R. Starting on 20 April 2008, the race will see competitors race 3700 miles from Concarneau in the west of France to St Barts in the Caribbean.

Raced in 30ft Beneteau boats, the Figaro class is the only current one-design class in existence that enables sailors to compete in a big fleet of identical boats which means any advantage gained during racing is down to the sailor alone. Sharp, the only British sailor in the race, will be up against a fleet dominated by the French featuring some of the best short-hand sailors in the world.

The pair are being coached by Tanguay Leglatin and will be taking part in Spi Ouest, France’s biggest sailing regatta, as part of their warm-up programme. Sharp will also be competing in a 3-day single-handed Figaro race from Les Sables d’Olonne – his first solo race since the Route du Rhum.

Speaking about his first entry in the Figaro circuit, 26 year-old Sharp said: “The Figaro class is about going back to college in ocean racing. The competition in the class is unbelievable high, meaning that whatever boat you’ve sailed before, no matter how well, you get a reality check and learn fast. If you want to progress to the top of the ocean racing sport these days, and get quickly to the front of the Open 60ft classes, the Figaro class is almost essential.”

“What’s incredible is how hard people push their boats,” continued Sharp. “You walk into the Figaro class and there are tales of people keeping their large spinnakers up in 45 knots of wind and averaging 20 knots. That’s seriously quick for a 30ft boat, and that’s single-handed.”