The World Sailing Speed Record Council has officially ratified a new Cowes to Dinard monohull World Record for British skipper Phil Sharp and his Class 40, Imerys.

7 December 2016

It is official, Phil Sharp has set a new World Record for the fastest single handed crossing of the English Channel in a monohull.

The World Sailing Speed Council (WSSRC) has now ratified the record.

Sharp sailed from Cowes to Dinard in his Class 40 Imerys in 9 hours 3 minutes and 6 seconds, with an average speed of 15.25 knots.

The route distance of 138nm was covered on 24 November 2016.

Sharp set a new record nearly 3 hours faster than the previous time of 12 hours 01 minute and 31 seconds set on 85ft Adrien by J L Van Den Heede (FRA) in November 2004.

Alongside breaking the Outright Monohull Record, the WSSRC has also confirmed an additional record as the fastest single-handed Channel crossing of any yacht below 60ft.

Commenting on his record achievements, Sharp said: “It’s fantastic news and a great feeling to have an official World Record under my belt, and this cross-Channel route, so close to home, had been beckoning for a while… It was an adrenaline-packed crossing, but far from straightforward as I was faced with challenges right from the start.”

Phil Sharp

Celebrating after breaking the record. Credit: Phil Sharp Racing

“I had some serious electronic issues with my autopilot, which refused to steer straight and strayed Imerys off course when I left the helm to navigate and carry out sail changes,” continued Sharp.

“This caused the boat to lose control several times, where shortly after the start, Imerys ended up flattened by a heavy gust near the Needles, damaging the spinnaker. I was forced to helm for 95% of the journey, so I could only get my hands on two power bars during the entire record. Sadly there was no time for tea and porridge!”

Sharp said Imerys “was on fire” in these windy conditions.

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“These latest Class 40’s are seriously optimised racing machines, averaging speeds of 15kts and surfing at over 20kts. It’s incredible what you get used to, 10kts quickly starts to feel very slow!” he explained.

“It is still difficult to believe that Imerys managed to carve 3 hours off the previous time. Hopefully this sets the bar high enough to hold on to the record for some time at least!” said Sharp.

“All in all it is a great way to round off a successful first year in Class 40 and this would have not been possible without the invaluable support of our partners, and tireless commitment from our team,” he added.

Details of the WSSRC ratified World Record:
Record: Cowes to Dinard. Outright Monohull and Singlehanded up to 60ft
Yacht: Imerys. 40ft Monohull
Name: Phil Sharp. GBR
Dates: 24th November 2016.
Start time: 06;38;27 UTC on 24/11/16
Finish time: 15;41;33 UTC on 24/11/16
Elapsed time: 9 hours 3 minutes and 6 seconds
Distance: 138 NM
Average speed: 15.25 kts
Previous record: Adrien J L Van Den Heede, FRA. Nov 2004. 12 hours 01 minute and 31 seconds


16:25 on 24 November 2016

Phil Sharp has crossed the finish line in Dinard, France to claim the record for the fastest single-handed crossing of the English Channel in a monohull.

He made the trip in nine hours and three minutes, knocking nearly three hours off the current record of 12 hours, 1 minute and 31 seconds.

This record was set by Frenchman Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who sailed the 138 nautical miles in an 85-foot long boat.

Commenting on his achievement, Sharp said: “I am absolutely over the moon, I honestly didn’t expect to make such a quick time, but the wind was very persistent and the boat was on fire the whole time. It was like getting power hosed for nine hours. Imerys was surfing down waves frequently at phenomenal speeds of over 20knts making the journey seriously wet and fast.”

Phil Sharp

Credit: Andy Le Gresley

“When we put out the Code Green to go, we knew there would be a lot of wind, but the conditions ended up stronger with gusts peaking 50knts. There were a few risks we took when we went out today, but there always are in record breaking conditions. Aside from the challenging conditions, I am really glad we went for it, even though there was more wind than I would have liked. The boat makes it exciting and it seems to have no top speed, the more wind there is the faster it goes!”

“The cross-Channel is a record I’ve had my eye on for many years and it lived up to being an incredible experience, though I am absolutely wiped out from the intensity of such an action packed day, but I hope it will motivate someone else to go and take it on!” stated the offshore racer.

Sharp averaged 17 knots in his Class 40 Imerys during the crossing.

His record attempt is yet to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council who await the black-box aboard Imerys for confirmation.

12:17 on 24 November 2016

Shortly after 0630 on 24 November 2016, Phil Sharp crossed the start-line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in an attempt to break the cross-Channel Record of 12 hours set on a boat twice the size.

In order to make the record books for the fastest crossing of the English Channel by a monohull, Sharp will need to average over 12 knots on his Class 40 Imerys for the entire journey from Cowes to Dinard.

The current record is held by Frenchman Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who sailed the 138 nautical miles in a time of 12 hours, 1 minute and 31 seconds.

However, Van Den Heede’s boat was 85-foot long, over twice the length of Sharp’s Imerys.

Phil Sharp hoping to break the English Channel Crossing Record

Phil Sharp hopes to finish the crossing in 12 hours or less. Credit: Andy Le Gresley

Commenting the day before his record attempt, Sharp said: “Trying to break a record in a boat half the size is never going to be straightforward, but Imerys is light and responsive, and one of the fastest 40ft monohulls in the world.”

“It will be blowing seriously hard all day tomorrow for the attempt, pretty much throughout the entire course, but it is definitely better to have a bit too much wind than too little,” he continued.

“I’m looking forward getting out there and giving it everything, but aside from sailing fast I need to keep things under control. The sea state is currently set to be around 3-4m out in the Channel, and I’m hoping this doesn’t kick up too many breaking waves in the Alderney Race, which can get seriously nasty in strong winds,” noted Sharp.

Phil Sharp attempts to break the English Channel record

Flying along on Imerys. Credit: Andy Le Gresley

Sharp’s meteorologist advisor, Jure Jerman, said the weather was ideal for breaking the record, adding that Sharp “has solid experience in these hard conditions.”

“Weather windows like this from the northeast do not come around that frequently, and I have every confidence that as long as he manages the boat well, stays safe, and has no breakages, then a new World Record is definitely in reach,” said Jerman, who acts as a weather advisor for many high class races including the Volvo Ocean Race, Mini Transat, Fastnet, The Transat, and the Normandy Channel Race.