North Sails NEWS
TRIFECTA FOR CLASS 40’s PHIL SHARP
Imerys Clean Energy Sets Record Around Britain And Ireland Powered By 3Di
Phil Sharp sailed Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy to line honors and first in division for the 2018 edition of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. They also shattered the 1800 nm race record by 15 hours with an elapsed time of 8 days, 4 hours, 14 minutes, and 49 seconds. Officially ratified, Phil Sharp, Julien Pulvé, Pablo Santurdé and Sam Matson are now in the Guiness Book of World Records!
We caught up with Phil to learn about the event that [so far] tops his third year of Class 40 racing.
“The coolest part [of this race] is the extremity of the weather,” he says. “It’s guaranteed windy and fast offshore sailing. You’re getting every kind of condition packed into a relatively small course, like a condensed transatlantic. Up near Scotland the depressions come in very quickly, and you’ve got to be prepared for anything. Things can become pretty hellish sometimes, and you’ll be changing sails a lot.”
“During the race we saw real extremes, from heavy downwind to light upwind sailing. We did two hours at seventeen and a half knots, which is our best average.”
Imerys Clean Energy is equipped with a 2016 North Sails 3Di Mainsail and 2017 headsails (J1 and NPL Sport J2 with reef). The downwind inventory includes a 2017 Code sail, 2016 Fractional A6 Superkote asymmetric, and a 2018 Masthead A2 Superkote Asymmetric. The hardest part for the team was knowing when to change sails for the fastest mode, because they saw such a wide variety of wind and sea states.
Driving the Class 40, Phil says, is “actually very, very light on the helm. Once you’re planing, you don’t have to make big [trimming] adjustments to have the effects you want, because it’s traveling quite fast.”
Before the start, Phil was already thinking about the world record. Halfway around and in the lead, the team realized they had a good shot at it. “It’s hard, because you just have to go with the conditions you get, as opposed to when the weather is just right.” Though they were pushed hard by other boats in their class, the team won by a good margin. “Some of our competitors did not finish. The boat is highly stressed during this race, so preparation and reliability of equipment are main priorities.”
“Our mainsail is two years old now and has 20,000 miles on her. I’ve got the confidence in my sails to push the boat quite hard, and for that reason, we are very fast. Our main is so durable and holds shape very well. It feels bulletproof, something you can rely on, which is really important.”
Asked about trimming a 3Di sail, Phil says “They’re quite sensitive to adjustments and you can completely change its shape. 3Di offers a lot of potential for tuning, and for sailing in different wind conditions.”
Phil works closely with North Sails expert Jeremy Smart, based out of Gosport, UK and says he was surprised how much direct involvement his team had with the development process. “Jeremy worked closely with this team to customize our inventory, which was really nice. We’ve been able to innovate and really develop our entire sail package over the last few years, which contributed to our success.”
“I’ve been very impressed with North Sails. If I have to get something repaired on the other side of the Atlantic, I’ve had equally impressive response and service. That global network is important when you’re ocean racing and end up in entirely different places around the world. I think that’s probably one of North’s biggest assets”
“This is definitely the toughest race in the northern hemisphere, harder than a transatlantic. All credit to the team who stuck at it and were exceptional, especially when the going got tough.”
Imerys Clean Energy now sits in first overall in the Class 40 rankings.