Peter Crowther is back again for what will be his tenth start in the OSTAR. This puts him two clear of Mike Richey who sailed eight races in Blondie Hasler’s Jester (and its replica after the original was lost).
Peter also claims another record – for the slowest crossing in the race. This gave the local newspaper its headline when they reported on his latest entry –
‘Slowest’ Atlantic yachtsman plots return to race for final swansong
A Devon yachtsman who holds the record for slowest Atlantic crossing is to make a comeback in the yacht he used 45 years ago.
In 1972 Peter Crowther took 88 days to cross from Plymouth to Rhode Island – arriving 68 days behind the winner of the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR).
This May the 74-year-old pub landlord will set sail on his tenth and last OSTAR, on Suomi Kudu, a modern Swan 38 owned by his brother-in-law.
Two weeks before the event he will be taking his family out for a nostalgic voyage along the South Devon coast on the boat he used for the original crossing – the historic gaffcutter Golden Vanity.
At 29, the then yachting magazine journalist decided to take part in the race, despite having no interest in finishing first. Golden Vanity was built as a pleasure boat, rather than a racing vessel and Peter just wanted to have the experience of taking part. He got his wish – coming last out of 55 entrants.
On the journey he was joined by his cat Gypsy and her six kittens, each named after a Lord of the Rings character.
Peter said: “I ran out of cat food quite quickly and then they had all my meat, so I was pretty hungry.”
It was a gruelling crossing and during the race the yachtsman had to replace the rigging three times and re-sew one of his sails.
At one point a hurricane warning message, stuffed in to a bottle, was thrown on board by a passing fishing vessel while he was below deck.
The race was his first OSTAR, though he had already undertaken two transatlantic crossings in 1970 and 1971.
It was far from the end of interesting and dramatic OSTAR crossings for Peter. In 1996 he did not even finish and made the headlines when his yacht Galway Blazer – which he owned for 23 years after he sold Golden Vanity – sank 500 miles southwest of Ireland.
He was rescued by a passing container ship after letting off a flare from a cold and wet emergency liferaft.
Peter sold Golden Vanity when he decided he wanted to get a bit more competitive.
The latest OSTAR will mean Peter has to take a break from running his Stoke Fleming pub, The Green Dragon, where he has been landlord for 24 years. Regulars are used to his disappearances; they know he’ll be back in two or three months.
Golden Vanity, which is now owned and operated by the Trinity Sailing Foundation, was built for the marine artist Arthur Briscoe by J Sanders & Co, at Galmpton, on the River Dart.
Mr Briscoe used her to follow the fishing fleets which he sketched and painted, helping to record the last working days of sail. One of the friends who sailed with him was Erskine Childers, who had already written his yachting spy novel Riddle of the Sands. For more information on sailing Golden Vanity visit trinitysailing.org
Keith Rossiter, Western Morning News.