American Peter Bourke is the first competitor to enter the next Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club. The 16th edition of the OSTAR, sailing from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island, starts on 25 May 2020.
Peter is no stranger to the OSTAR having raced it before in 2009. He suffered several gear failures, losing his headsail furler, wind vane and autopilot, but made the courageous decision to continue – hand steering for much of the race. He finished in 41 days in an impressive feat of seamanship which he wrote about in his book “Sea Trials”.
The North Atlantic can be a challenging place. Two boats were lost in the last OSTAR with their skippers rescued (one skipper has already bought his replacement boat and decided to enter again!). Peter will be sailing the same boat – Rubicon, a monohull Outbound 44 – as in 2009 but should get an easier and certainly faster crossing this time. Peter says “I don’t expect another book to come out of my 2020 effort, but I am hoping for some improvement over my previous record”.
In 2020 the RWYC celebrates the 60th anniversary of the race that started singlehanded oceanic racing. The OSTAR was devised by Blondie Hasler as a trial of seamanship and equipment, racing against the prevailing winds and current of the North Atlantic, and the first race was won by Francis Chichester. The race remains a Corinthian event open to all, with professional and non-professional skippers entering, still organised by the Yacht Club that started it.
Peter Bourke will be following in the tracks of the previous OSTAR skippers who have braved the North Atlantic, and of those earlier transatlantic sailors on the Mayflower – 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the departure of the Mayflower from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, New England.