By 1976 the number of competitors had grown to 125 and the largest boat was Alain Colas’ 236ft Club Mediterranée. The growth of the race attracted the disapproval of the “establishment” and the RWYC came under pressure to restrict both boat size and the number of boats in the fleet.
But with the popularity of the race ever growing, the 1980 race had over twice as many applicants as could be accepted. The decision was made in 1978 to run a second race to accommodate the overflow. However, as a further gesture to the critics (as well as satisfying a demand from further competitors), this race would be for boats sailed by a crew of two – the Two-handed Transatlantic Race or TWOSTAR – raced in 1981.
The OSTAR continued to grow in popularity particularly with the ‘professional’ 50 and 60 ft boat skippers for whom the OSTAR was a points-scoring event on their racing calendar and a qualifier for the round-the-world events. While winning was essential for the heavily sponsored skippers, the less ‘professional’ participants entered for the challenge of crossing the North Atlantic often competing in small family cruisers.
By 2000 the ‘Grand Prix’ boats made up half the fleet and their accompanying media circus dominated the race, little attention was paid to the smaller less- (or un-) sponsored boats. The Club took the decision to split the race and have a commercially-run ‘Grand Prix’ event for the large classes while continuing ownership of, and the running, of the classic or ‘Corinthian’ OSTAR.