Sailing:Sharp’s Fastnet show fires Volvo ambition

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Said solo Atlantic sailing star Sharp: ‘Of the 271 starters there were 219 retirements so no doubt this year’s Fastnet will go down as one of the most challenging.

The race has helped confirm to me that getting to the Volvo Ocean Race next year is definitely an option I would be interested in pursuing.’ Competing on a Volvo 60, which was built for the 2000 Volvo Ocean Race (ex-Tyco) and is currently used as a training vessel for the Russian entry in next year’s Volvo race, the crew left Cowes on Monday.

‘Having really only raced offshore short-handed, either solo or double-handed, it was somewhat interesting to step onto a boat with 15 other people on board,’ said Sharp.

‘Initially surprised at the large number of crew, I was to find out that even with eight people on deck at each time, with the watches split into two, life can get fairly exhausting.’ The course took the multi-national crew from the start at Cowes round the Fastnet Rock, off the south-west coast of Ireland, and back to Plymouth, via the south side of the Isles of Scilly.

Sharp and the crew crossed the line in Plymouth on Wednesday evening in sixth overall – with only 52 finishing the race.

Said Sharp: ‘After doing two solo transatlantic races within the last two years, working in a team environment is a fresh change, a great learning experience, and in many ways a more enjoyable one with some good characters on board and a lot of down-to-earth sailing talent.

‘Although my ultimate ambition remains as the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, and the personal satisfaction from racing solo is unparalleled, the Volvo would be great for improving my technical sailing skills no end and give the all-important experience of racing down in the gruelling Southern Ocean.’

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