OSTAR 1968

– the invention (and banning) of weather routing

The race became truly international with a total of 35 competitors from as far a field as Sweden, Germany, USA and South Africa to add to the usual British and French entries. The starters included the 1964 winner Eric Tabarly, in his revolutionary trimaran Pen Duick IV, the first woman entrant, Edith Baumann from West Germany in her sloop Koala III, and the Frenchman Joan de Kat in his sloop Yaksha. Of these three, Tabarly retired at the end of the first week; de Kat’s yacht broke up, and he was rescued after a vast air and sea search lasting three days; and Edith Baumann was rescued off the Azores.
This race that proved what a tough proposition the OSTAR can be. During the race the North Atlantic was swept by a massive depression bringing with it 60 knot, storm force winds. Many competitors hoved to, dropping all but a storm jib to sit out the terrible conditions.
Only one competitor made a significant gain by taking advantage of the rules, which had not outlawed weather routing (at that time, it was not considered viable for solo skippers). Before satellite communications, on board internet access or web-based weather sites, Geoffrey Williams racing the monohull Sir Thomas Lipton was the first to use weather routing. Via a hefty high-frequency radio, Williams would communicate with meteorologists at Bracknell who were running weather models using a very early computer and who would provide him with forecasts. Warned of the storm, Williams sailed north missing the brunt of it and gained an estimated 300 miles over his competitors in the process. Williams went on to win the race despite some controversy at the end when he sailed the wrong course – Williams missed a vital part of the skippers briefing when an amendment to the sailing instructions was issued to round the Nantucket Light Vessel on approach to finish. As the Race Committee had not published the amendment in writing, grounds for any protest were weak. In a display of great sportsmanship, no other skipper protested him. Weather routing was banned from subsequent races and the rule setters were careful to distinguish between Nantucket and the light vessel.
While one multihull had entered in 1960 (but was unable to start) and three had competed in 1964, in 1968 there were no fewer than 13 multihulls (although only five completed the course), including a 65ft (20m) “monster” (Pen Duick IV) entered by Eric Tabarly. But his trimaran lacked preparation following the social unrest of May 1968 in France, forcing him to retire. The best multihull was a proa Cheers designed by an as yet unknown American, Dick Newick and raced by Tom Follet who finished in third place.
This edition was a sign of a new era to come.

 

OBSERVER TROPHY SINGLE-HANDED TRANSATLANTIC RACE 1968 — The Third OSTAR

Plymouth – Newport   01 June 1968 11:00 BST     Started: 35      Finished: 18

Skipper

Yacht

Type

LOA

Class

H/cap

Elapsed Time

Corrected Time

O/A Place

Class Place

Corr Place

Nat

Williams, Geoffrey

Sir Thomas Lipton

M

57

25 20 33

1

GBR

Dalling, Bruce

Voortrekker

M

50

0.854

26 13 42

22 16 51

2

1

RSA

Follett, Tom

Cheers

P

40

27 00 13

3

USA

Williams, Leslie

Spirit of Cutty Sark

M

53

0.853

29 10 17

25 02 44

4

4

GBR

Howell, Bill

Golden Cockerel

C

42.5

31 16 24

5

AUS

Cooke, Brian

Opus

M

32

0.718

34 08 23

24 16 14

6

3

GBR

Minter-Kemp, Martin

Gancia Girl

T

42

34 13 15

7

GBR

Bevan, Noel

Myth of Malham

M

40

0.789

36 01 41

28 11 01

8

8

GBR

de Castelbajac, Bernard

Maxine

M

34.5

0.728

37 13 47

27 08 36

9

6

FRA

Terlain, Jean-Yves

Maguelonne

M

35

0.723

38 09 10

27 18 17

10

7

FRA

Burgess, Nigel

Dogwatch

M

27

0.708

38 12 13

27 06 20

11

5

GBR

Foezon, André

Sylvia II

M

36

0.738

40 00 16

29 12 29

12

9

FRA

Enbom, Bertil

Fione

M

20

0.606

40 14 13

24 14 22

13

2

SWE

Hehner, Claus

Mex

M

37

41 10 46

32 00 04

14

11

GER

Pakenham, Stephen

Rob Roy

M

32.5

0.772

42 03 49

30 10 20

15

10

GBR

Forbes, Colin

Startled Faun

T

33

0.722

45 10 08

16

GBR

Rodriguez, Bernard

Amistad

T

25

47 18 05

17

USA

Richey, Mike

Jester

M

26

0.658

57 10 40

37 19 43

18

12

GBR

Mattsson, Ake

Goodwin II

M

19.5

0.616

Disqualified

SWE

Tabarly, Eric

Pen Duick IV

T

67

Collision damage

FRA

Willis, Eric

Coila

T

50

Ill, bad water – taken off

GBR

Carozzo, Alex

San Giorgio

C

53

Rudder trouble

ITA

Pyle, David

Atlantis III

M

26.5

0.695

Torn sails, self steering, retired Azores

GBR

Wallin, William

Wileca

M

27

0.662

No damage

SWE

Waquet, Bernard

Tamoure

T

26

Air France strike (were to help him navigate)

FRA

Bauman, Edith

Koala III

T

39.5

Abandoned ship, breaking up

GER

Wingate, Robert

Zeevalk

M

39.5

0.799

Self steering

GBR

Pulsford, Mike

White Ghost

T

34

Float attachment, rudder

GBR

Heinemann, Egon

Aye-Aye

M

33

0.736

Self steering

GER

Piazzini, Guy

Guntur III

M

41

Mast step fitting broken

SUI

Munro, Sandy

Ocean Highlander

C

45

Dismasted, returned under jury rig

GBR

Paillard, Lionel

La Delirante

M

36

0.693

Retired to France

FRA

Cuiklinski, Marc

Ambrima

M

37

0.72

Dismasted, taken in tow but sank

FRA

de Kat, Joan

Yaksha

T

50

Broke up, crew rescued

FRA

Gliksman, Alain

Raph

M

58

0.887

Steering trouble, retired St Johns

FRA

 

TROPHIES

dd hh mm

Winner

Geoffrey Williams

Sir Thomas Lipton

25 20 33

Record

(Previous Record

Eric Tabarly

Pen Duick II

27 03 56

1964)

Handicap

Bruce Dalling

Voortrekker

22 16 51

 
OSTAR Track 1968

 
OSTAR Track 1968 27Jun