Bruichladdich support Phil Sharp Racing in new 'End to End' record attempt

We love inspirational people and projects and the very idea of entering the 2016 Vendée Globe in a zero emissions racing yacht truly floats our boat.  The legendary Vendée Globe is one of the wildest and most extreme sporting endurance events out there.  It is a non-stop, single handed race around the planet in the most technically advanced ‘IMOCA 60’ yachts and takes place every four years. It starts and finishes on the French Vendée coast and means around 78-90 days and 27,600 solo miles sailing non-stop and unassisted.  Simply getting to the starting line is a major achievement.  Completing the race a triumph.  Winning is the dream.

A small crew led by skipper Phil Sharp, who is one of Britain’s most successful offshore sailors, is chasing that Vendée Globe dream. The race starts in 11 months time and Phil’s plans are coming to fruition now. While headline sponsorship of his team is way beyond the capability of our progressive Hebridean distillery, we have offered to help with their preparations in a small, but exciting way.

There is no established record for sailing the length of Britain, from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Running, walking, cycling, playing golf, yes; sailing? No.

Swimming?...... Well that is part of the story. As soon as he heard about Phil Sharp’s plans to sail the length of the UK, Sean ‘The Beard’ Conway called him up and asked if he could join the crew.

Sean is the only person to have swum the route – between April and November 2013 – because, having also run and cycled he wanted to add to his Lands End John O Groats record collection. It is a mere detail that Sean is a non sailor who admits he suffers seasickness. Solo racer Phil will need to fast track Sean’s sailing skills to a decent level over the pre-start days.

“It will be a pleasure and inspiration to have Sean along. Most of the racing I do is solo and so I have no technical worries about having Sean aboard. He is as hard as nails and I am sure that I can enhance my own endurance capacity learning from a Zen master like Sean.” Sharp reveals.
Both will be tested to their limits because they are embarking in a couple of weeks - in mid-winter.

“We will be setting a benchmark which I think many will go on to challenge, simply because it is a great, mainly downwind, fast route. However this also be part of the training and conditioning for the Southern Ocean which is where I aim to be at Christmas next year during the Vendée Globe. Sailing in mid-December on Scotland’s most northerly coast, along the Pentland Firth and around Cape Wrath, are some of the most hostile waters in Europe, certainly as cold and malicious at times as the Southern Ocean.” 

Phil’s race boat for the Vendée Globe is not available for the Lands End John O Groats Challenge and because of its 4.5m draft could not enter the harbours of the NE Scotland anyway. So a high-performance Class 40 racing boat (smaller than the Vendee boats) has been chartered which will be delivered to Falmouth ahead of the record.  This will be an opportunity to train Sean and teach him the ropes.

The team will be on standby for the record any time after the 6th December, and will leave as soon as the right weather window presents itself. The weather is likely to be very challenging.  They will be aboard an awesomely fast racing machine powered by nothing but the elements.  There will be risks. It is going to be very wet, very cold and very wild. And, remember, December means long, long hours of darkness and short days. And we are going to be there with them.  In spirit anyway.

Laddiefans who have been lucky enough to experience the exhilaration of sailing boats in big winds will understand the sensory overload, and understand why we want to be involved and why we want to help tell this story.  We are not quite sure how we are going to do it just yet, because communicating with the yacht as it hurtles northwards will be challenging, but we are going to have a go. 

We hope you will join us…  This promises to be a white-knuckle ride….

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