Half Crown Club

The memorable 1960 first OSTAR had five competitors (Blondie Hasler, Francis Chichester, Valentine Howells, David Lewis, and Jean Lacombe) and the Duke of Edinburgh presented the prizes at the Arts Club.  The upcoming 2017 Reunion will be 33 years after creation of the Half Crown Club through the stimulation of Tim Hubbard, Alan Wynne Thomas, and Lloyd Hircock “… one evening in a country pub tucked away in Cornwall while escaping the pressures of the build up before the 1984 OSTAR”;  the trio produced Go for broke with the Half Crown Club T-shirts.  Hubbard’s 1986 book THE RACE [ISBN 0-393-03313-9] devoted a chapter to the Club and recorded that Mike Richey was one of many who sported the new shirt; the sole survivor of these founders is Lloyd Hircock (now Lloyd Elliott) now living in Ontario, Canada.

Although Hubbard’s book (p. 42) stated: “In that contest [first OSTAR in 1960], Chichester bet Hasler half a crown (about fifty cents) that he would get to America first”, Mike Richey and many others associated with the first OSTAR have been energetic over the years in assuring everyone that, although suggested before the first race, an actual half-crown wager did not occur;  recently, Michael Ellison (’64) wrote confirming this matches his recollection of events before the first race. Despite vigorous widespread debate about whether there was a wager or not, archival documents establish the reality of a proposed half-crown wager if a race sponsor was not identified, the proposal died when the RWYC agreed to sponsor first OSTAR. The proposed wager continues to provide a memorable name for the Half Crown Club.

In 2007, Alan Wynne Thomas noted “… the Club was founded to celebrate the camaraderie and spirit of the skippers just getting to the starting line … [and that it] would be unique and have no rules.”  Each of the 538 skippers who crossed one or more of the OSTAR start lines from 1960 to 2013 is automatically a member, whether they got to other side or not;  unhappily, some of 50 or so skippers have since died and contact has been lost with many others.  If you know any OSTAR skipper who is not currently receiving Half Crown Club News Letters by e-mail, please let the Club know at halfcrown@rwyc.org.

Valentine Howells (’60, ’64, ’76), veteran of the first OSTAR, and close to 200 other members around the world keep in touch. The 2017 Reunion will be on Saturday 27th May 2017 at the Royal Western Yacht Club (while OSTAR 2017 itself starts on Plymouth Sound at 1200 on Monday 29th May 2017). To be at the Reunion and the 2017 start please contact halfcrown@rwyc.org for additional information.

The RWYC has an Oceanic Membership (a special category of full membership available only to skippers who completed one or more OSTAR).  Sign up with the RWYC Secretariat to take advantage of this special membership, created in recognition of the contribution single-handed OSTAR competitors have made to the yacht-racing world;  this RWYC membership costs only £75 per year.

The current list of all Half Crown Members (including those deceased), showing those for whom an e-mail (or postal) address is known, is at  Half Crown Club Members ;
please send the Club the current e-mail addresses for Members not shown with E .