Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race – OSTAR

10th May 2020

OSTAR 2020

The Royal Western Yacht Club of England will run its major transatlantic races, the Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and the Two-handed Transatlantic Race (TWOSTAR), again in 2020.

The start of the OSTAR has been brought in one year (it normally runs every four years) to mark the 60th anniversary of the first race run in 1960. The TWOSTAR will again sail in conjunction with the OSTAR. With the two races we will be celebrating 60 years of shorthanded trans-oceanic racing in the Royal Western Yacht Club.

Are you up to the challenge of racing, single-handed or double-handed 3000 miles across the North Atlantic?

In 2020 the Royal Western Yacht Club of England, based in Plymouth, will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of its introduction of singlehanded trans-oceanic racing to the world, and the 60 years since then during which it nurtured and developed short-handed oceanic racing. The highlight of the Club’s celebrations will be the running of the 16th OSTAR (the anniversary edition) and 7th edition of the TWOSTAR starting on 10 May.

The first trans-Atlantic race, conceived in 1960 by ‘cockleshell hero’ Blondie Hasler and organised by the RWYC, sailed from Plymouth to New York and was won by the intrepid yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester. It was an instant success and despite strong opposition from the sailing establishment saw the birth of singlehanded racing throughout the world. Since then the RWYC has run the OSTAR (the Original Singlehanded TransAtlantic Race) every four years from Plymouth to Newport. It was later joined by a sister event, the Twohanded TransAtlantic Race (which quickly became known as the TWOSTAR), when the demand grew for a twohanded race.

The OSTAR and TWOSTAR have been the proving ground for many internationally famous yachtsmen and women but the races have always remained true to Hasler’s vision – a Corinthian event in which seamanship and the development of new techniques and equipment are paramount. A race against the ocean as much as against other boats.  The races are open to all: aspiring sponsored professionals in their highly tuned machines out to break records, family skippers in cruisers/racers intending to complete the Everest of sailing, and the ‘more experienced’ skippers in their blue-water boats just to get there again (preferably ahead of their rivals).

2020 is also an important year for Plymouth. ‘Britain’s Ocean City’ will be celebrating yet another transatlantic sailing – that of the Mayflower from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, New England – in the ‘Mayflower 400’ year-long event.

The OSTAR and TWOSTAR will be joined in Mayflower 400 by the TRANSAT (the professional ‘Grand Prix’ race for the larger one-design class boats) with all three races starting on the same day.  The many pre-race activities will create a unique occasion with the large race village on the RWYC’s doorstep. The TRANSAT competitors and their support teams will be rubbing shoulders with the OSTAR and TWOSTAR Corinthians in what promises to be an exciting social programme.

The races themselves also promise to be exciting, though hopefully not quite as exciting as the last event in 2017. A traditionally warm welcome awaits the finishers at the Newport Yacht Club.

The RWYC welcomes applications for entry to the 2020 OSTAR and TWOSTAR.

Next Event Begins In…

Race Details

Dates

Monday 10th May 2020

Contacts

Race Director
Sailing Secretary

Social Media

Follow OSTAR on Facebook

Entry & Payment

Please pay the deposit when you complete the Entry Form below, and the remainder of the discounted entry fee by 16th March 2020. Payment may be made online or by bank transfer.

Race Documents

Race Tracking

OSTAR Background

The Single-handed Transatlantic Race was devised by ‘Blondie’ Hasler in 1957 as a sporting event to encourage the development of equipment and techniques for shorthanded oceanic sailing that would benefit the wider sailing community.  The course, across the North Atlantic against the prevailing winds and currents, sets a significant test of seamanship.

The first race was run in 1960 after Hasler had finally obtained sponsorship from the Observer Newspaper and interested the Royal Western Yacht Club in organising the event which became known as the OSTAR.  Five competitors started and remarkably five finished!  The race was won by Francis Chichester in Gipsy Moth III, the largest boat in the fleet at 40 feet.

The second race in 1964 attracted 15 starters and was won by Eric Tabarly in the 44ft Pen Duick II. For his achievement he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur by President de Gaulle. France’s love affair with short-handed oceanic racing and the OSTAR (or Transat Anglaise) was established.

The founders of the OSTAR 1960
Race start - OSTAR 1984

By 1976 the number of competitors had grown to 125 and the largest boat was Alain Colas’ 236ft Club Mediterranée. The growth of the race attracted the disapproval of the “establishment” and the RWYC came under pressure to restrict both boat size and the number of boats in the fleet.

But with the popularity of the race ever growing, the 1980 race had over twice as many applicants as could be accepted.  The decision was made in 1978 to run a second race to accommodate the overflow.  However, as a further gesture to the critics (as well as satisfying a demand from further competitors), this race would be for boats sailed by a crew of two – the Two-handed Transatlantic Race or TWOSTAR – raced in 1981.

The OSTAR continued to grow in popularity particularly with the ‘professional’ 50 and 60 ft boat skippers for whom the OSTAR was a points-scoring event on their racing calendar and a qualifier for the round-the-world events. While winning was essential for the heavily sponsored skippers, the less ‘professional’ participants entered for the challenge of crossing the North Atlantic often competing in small family cruisers.

By 2000 the ‘Grand Prix’ boats made up half the fleet and their accompanying media circus dominated the race, little attention was paid to the smaller less- (or un-) sponsored boats. The Club took the decision to split the race and have a commercially-run ‘Grand Prix’ event for the large classes while continuing ownership of, and the running, of the classic or ‘Corinthian’ OSTAR.

The return of the OSTAR (the O standing for Original) to the Corinthian ideals of Blondie Hasler was welcome and many experienced OSTAR skippers entered the 2005 edition. The race continued successfully, without a break, to the present.

The Club’s original transatlantic shorthanded races, the OSTAR and TWOSTAR, raised the interest in shorthanded sailing in France and worldwide. There have been many copies, transatlantic and round-the-world, but most have come and gone and the remainder are commercially run events. The OSTAR remains a unique Corinthian race against the prevailing winds and currents of the North Atlantic that is open to all, amateur and professional, and run by a Yacht Club.

The sixteenth OSTAR will now be sailed in conjunction with the seventh TWOSTAR celebrating 60 years of shorthanded oceanic racing at the Royal Western Yacht Club and the 60th anniversary of the start of it all – the first and Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race.

For the history of the race please visit OSTAR History

OSTAR Start 2017

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