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  1. ITV Report

Sharp up to second in Route du Rhum

Sharp says everything on board Imerys is Credit: Phil Sharp Racing

Jersey yachtsman Phil Sharp fought his way up to second in the Route du Rhum as the solo transatlantic race entered its fifth day.

The 2006 Class40 champion has battled challenging conditions since departing Saint-Malo on Sunday.

More than half of the fleet, which totals 123 boats across six classes, has been forced to retire or call into port in the opening few days.

Earlier this week, Sharp had to bail out around 500 litres of water after a ballast tank burst, and climb the mast to fix a broken halyard.

He does not have the fastest boat in the 53-strong Class40 division and is relying on faultless navigation to stay in contention.

The leading skippers are expected to reach the finish in Guadeloupe, some three-and-a-half thousand miles away from the start, in ten days or so.

I’ve been racing as hard as possible in these windy reaching conditions, especially to stay with the newer boats, which are literally going up to 2kts faster at times in these conditions. I have just checked the positions and pleased to be in 2nd now, but I can’t believe how quick the Lombard Lift ‘Veedol’ is, eating 10 miles out of me last night, even faster than the Mach 3 ‘Aina’. It is however, ideal strong reaching conditions for both of these new boats and I’ll have to play catch up from Monday, when hopefully they’ll be less reaching!

– Phil Sharp, skipper, Imerys
Thomson is making his debut in the Route du Rhum this year. Credit: Lloyd Images

Meanwhile, fellow Brit Alex Thomson, whose family live in Jersey, leads the Imoca class on board Hugo Boss.

The 2016/17 Vendee Globe runner-up was more than 60 nautical miles ahead of his closest rival on Thursday afternoon.

If he wins, he would become the second British sailor to win the class following Dame Ellen MacArthur in 2002.