With 95 entries, the trend was towards on board electronics, weather files and automatic pilots. It was no longer enough for the solo sailor to be an excellent mariner and a tough racer, he also had to be a computer wizard and manage his tactical and strategic options on board.
1988 proved to be a record-breaking race as multihull designer Nigel Irens stated: “The record is bound to be broken. The evolution in multihull design is taking place at a phenomenal rate. Today’s 60ft trimarans have 25% speed advantage over boats raced four years ago.” Philippe Poupon’s (Fleury Michon) demonstration was exemplary with exceptional conditions on the Atlantic allowing the Breton to virtually sail a direct route the whole way. Mike Birch (Fujicolor) and Olivier Moussy (Laiterie St Michel) were sailing similar Nigel Irens-designed trimarans. But, unfortunately, Birch hit a whale, while Olivier Moussy had problems caused by a late launch. Philippe Poupon set a stunning new record of 10 days, 9 hours and 15 minutes or the equivalent along the Great Circle route of 11 knots average speed. Florence Arthaud (Groupe Pierre 1er) became the fastest woman finishing in 13 days 10hr 58m.
Nic Bailey (MTC) set a phenomenal Class 4 record for the course, finishing 12th in 16 days 17 hours – faster than all of Classes 2 and 3.
An exceptional disaster befell skipper David Sellings on board his monohull Hyccup. A pod of whales, up to 50 or 60 at one point, had surrounded his boat for three days and finally attacked, holing the boat. Sellings only had time to grab a few belongings and inflate his liferaft before Hyccup sank.
Another loss was that of Jester. On her eighth OSTAR, having competed in every race, she was knocked down in heavy weather and lost her starboard hatch. Mike Richey was unable to stem the flow and was taken off. Jester was taken in tow but had to be abandoned.