20 Oct OSTAR TWOSTAR race report – sponsored by MailAsail
Over one hundred and twenty spectators consisting of family, friends, Royal Western Yacht Club members and press were treated to a fantastic start to the OSTAR and TWOSTAR race, the 60th anniversary of the OSTAR that had been postponed for two years due to Covid. Six nationalities were represented, that being Poland, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Early pace was shown by Michal Kopanov sailing his Faurby 39, ‘Krone One’, Marcus Moser on ‘Lifgun’ and Jankees and Floris Lampe sailing in the TWOSTAR on ‘La Promesse’. Jankees had previously won the OSTAR in 2009 and was returning with his son this year with the aim of beating his previous winning time of fifteen days.
Headlining a weekend of social events was the Half Crown Club Dinner, an exclusive invitation to those who have raced in previous OSTAR editions to meet and spend time with the new competitors taking part in this, the oldest of all single handed oceanic races, the one that set the way for all others to follow and remains a springboard to those who have their sights on professional campaigns such as the Route de Rhum and the Vendee Globe. Indeed, the OSTAR / TWOSTAR remains one of the toughest yacht races in the world, with not only the Grand Banks off Newfoundland with its moving seabed, but thick fog, ice cold temperatures and not forgetting the continuous prevailing headwinds.
The dinner was hosted by commodore Chris Arscott. Also present were dignitaries from the finish host club, the Newport Yacht Club, included the Vice Commodore Mr and Mrs Robert Antignano and the US Asst Race Director, Mr Norman Bailey, along with the Royal Western Yacht Club race management team.
Saturday was devoted to preparation and rest, with a number of entries still making their final adjustments to ensure they hit the line in perfect condition to take on this Goliath of ocean yacht races.
Race morning and the weather briefing followed what was a brief, but detailed presentation of the start procedure given by RWYC Commodore Chris Arscott. All boats were to muster to the north of the start line, being Melampus and F Buoy, then await the starting sequence which was relayed by race director Adrian Gray. Conditions were sedate, which allowed everyone to get away cleanly and head out on their first leg of the course being a fetch to the Eddystone Lighthouse which they were to leave to starboard.
Early pace setters were ‘La Promesse’ with a sizeable lead on the pack lead by Marcus Moser in ‘Lifgun’, closely followed by ‘Krone One’ and Michal Kopanov. By 1300UTC Herve Dupriez in his Rustler 36, ‘Polynya’, had passed the Eddystone which meant that the entire fleet had managed the first leg in great time.
Once south of Ireland, the weather systems were showing as predicted, a low pressure tracking north-east at a pace which would split the fleet. This brought what would be the biggest decision for the first part of the race, head north and press hard to go over the top of the low or take the southern route and keep more to the rhumb line.
Conditions gradually worsened through the coming hours which saw some very early disruption to both single and double handed entrants. Conditions were tough with strong winds and confused seas causing a number gear issues, notably with autopilots. All boats carry 2 autopilots but even with two it was soon very apparent that this was not sufficient to cope with the weather system the fleet found themselves in. Within the first seventy two hours, ‘Oddesy’ and ‘Hultaj’ had no choice but return to port, closely followed within twenty four hours by ‘Krone One’ and ‘Blue Horizon’. These boats had made the tough decision to turn away from the storm and head towards port in order to effect repairs wherever possible before facing the solitude of the Atlantic Ocean.
Of those who turned for port, only ‘Hultaj’ would re-join the race. Jacek Chabowski announced his retirement due to technical issues, Tomasz Ladyko returned to Plymouth with gear failure, primarily autopilot, and Michal Kopanov reported damage to the furling drum along with loss of fresh water due to a leaking tank and electronic issues. By now the two heading north with a chance of making it through the low had split, that being Jankees and Floris Lampe onboard their open 40 ‘La Promesse’ and Neil Payter on his open 40 ‘Cariberia’. Within a matter of hours, Payter was seen to be turning in an easterly direction some 300 miles northeast of the northern Irish coast. Comms were lost but the tracker continued to show movement for another twelve hours, when all signs of communication were lost. At this point a precautionary call was made to HM coastguard and a local watch notice was sent to all passing craft in that region. As concern grew for Payter, Lampe was now through the centre of the low and heading on a more south-westerly route whilst enjoying a short respite that the eye of the storm was allowing them. Of the other boats in the fleet, the beautiful Pegasus 50 ‘Lifgun’ was progressing in a southerly direction having got as close as he could to the favourable winds to the west of the low, closely tracked by Keith Walton on ‘Harmonii’. Now the presence of James Mansell on ‘Escape’ was being felt. Mansell had stuck to the rhum line on a course further south which brought him into the race to split ‘Lifgun’ and ‘Harmonii’ and establish himself as leading the race on corrected time.
By now all who were able to re-join had done so with the Beneteau figaro ‘Hultaj’ being the last to leave their shelter on the southern-most point of Ireland where they managed to repair the damage to the autopilot mechanical connection to the tiller. As the majority of the fleet began to settle into the race ahead of them, a spread of over around 1000 nautical miles developed. Now each entry faced their own challenges, and the race became not only a physical battle but a mental one too.
The watch system within the RWYC continued to monitor the progress of the entire fleet, whilst focus was particularly shared with the HM coastguard on Neil Payter and ‘Cariberia’. By now seventy two hours had passed and so, following no sightings of ‘Cariberia’ and no tracker feedback since 1600 on the 20th of May, HM Coastguard decided to deploy a fixed winged asset to survey the area with an update on that survey expected in the early hours of the following morning.
The next call with HM Coastguard brought news of Payter’s ‘Cariberia’ being spotted, a sail was visible but as yet with no signs of life on board. Now that there was a positive visual of the boat it was decided to deploy both coastguard search and rescue helicopter and the nearest offshore lifeboat to find and stabilise ‘Cariberia’.
Within just a few hours the rescue teams were able to contact the skipper who was otherwise safe and well, albeit the boat had lost all comms (other than a handheld VHF) and its autopilots. Although later it came to be known that Payter was actually down below resting having had to steer for many hours in compromising conditions and without autopilot, he accepted the outside help of the rescue services and was then towed into safety, ending Payter’s chances for completing the race for this year, however it is clear that this is now unfinished business. Most importantly Neil Payter was fit and well, albeit exhausted, which came as great relief to his family, friends and all those watching social media from afar. The damage list was extensive, including sail damage, autopilot failure, electrics finally shutting down and the water ballast transfer hose coming apart from the system.
Back out in the Atlantic and there were a number of small battles happening throughout the fleet, not least on ‘Lifgun’ and a private battle Markus Moser was having with gear failure. Whilst sailing with a code zero, the Bobstay let go and sent the bowsprit skywards, causing issues with sail selection particularly when just off the breeze. This was followed some days later when the boom creased at the vang fitting, further damaging the ability to press as hard as he would have liked. Moser strapped up the damaged boom as best as he could which enabled him to get somewhat closer to optimum speeds.
Meanwhile, James Mansell and ‘Escape’ were enjoying life as he continued to lead on corrected time over ‘Lifgun’. This was not without incident or indeed injury. Indeed Mansell was sustained a broken rib during 1 of a number of pretty big knockdowns. This was to trouble him for the majority of the remaining race, not least during a bout of seasickness reminding him that ribs are not the quickest injury to repair or get over, especially racing solo in the Atlantic Ocean. Some days later ‘Escape’ would have a jib car explode forcing Mansell onto the foredeck, broken rib and all, during a particularly bumpy 30 knots, so he could rig something up so as to be able to trim the jib for the remainder of the race. Mansell was to recall this in his daily reports as “it was like a bucking bronco ride with someone directing a fire hose at me every now and again”
Wildlife is also a big topic for this race. It makes for a period of time where something else is the main focus other than keeping the boat in good shape and pointing in the right direction whilst minimising any chance of causing damage. ‘Harmonii’ was joined by a number of sea birds, including Fulmars and Petrels, and later a pod of pilot whales including a baby one in the group.
Day 15 and we were to lose the tracker on ‘Hultaj’. Being a smaller boat and at the tail end of the fleet can sometimes expose that boat to more danger as the fleet are always getting further away. Fortunately the race management team were able to get a message to Szymon Kuczyski to send daily position updates back to the race office via text messages so as to keep communications live. This happened for the entire rest of their race across the Atlantic.
June 1st and US asst race director Norman Bailey’s phone rings, it’s the TWOSTAR entry of Jankees and Floris Lampe on ‘La Promesse’ announcing their imminent arrival to the Rhode Island headland and their TWOSTAR race finish. Welcome vessels gathered and celebrated their crossing the finish line with a time of 21 days, 11 hours, 22 minutes and 10 seconds. Although this was longer than Jankees OSTAR 2009 winning time of 17 days, 17 hours and 40 minutes it was nevertheless the first time someone had won both OSTAR and TWOSTAR, it was also the first father and son victory. No doubt this will not be the last time we see the name Lampe as with a younger brother, Wouter, equally as keen to take on the world of 2 handed oceanic racing it’s only a matter of time before we see ‘Team Lampe’ on the start line once again.
Next in, and long-time OSTAR line honours leader, Markus Moser who was making his mark in the oceanic race history books. With a finishing time of 24 Days, 49 minutes and 4 seconds Marcus Moser and ‘Lifgun’ was out of reach for the rest of the OSTAR class on IRC also and was therefore declared the OSTAR 2022 line-honours and IRC winner.
Following them in was James Mansell on ‘Escape’ with a hugely respectful time of 25 days, 8 hours, 4 minutes and 35 seconds. The familiar Newport Yacht Club warm welcome greeted him, consisting of a welcoming crowd and a bag of local produce, which included a much-deserved beer or two!
Next in, some two days later, was Herve Dupriez on Polynya. Again, a tremendous achievement for the Frenchman in one of the smallest boats in the fleet. Then some two and a half days later Keith Walton and ‘Harmonii’ were next to finish in the TWOSTAR class. Walton has entered the OSTAR before but was unsuccessful. This time and with the help of his co skipper, Jay Beeken, he has fulfilled the dream of finishing this formidable racecourse.
Following ‘Harmonii’ was to be Szymon Kucynski and Ann Jastrzebska onboard their Beneteau Figaro ‘Hultaj’ with a time of 31 days, 33 minutes and 58 seconds. This was quite possibly the toughest way to complete the race. 25ft long and with a failed autopilot forcing them to turn back, these 2 intrepid sailors stuck at it and went on to finish where many would have taken their gloves off and made a B Line for the showers!
1st & Line Honours Lifgun Markus Moser
2nd Escape James Mansell
3rd Polynya Herve Dupriez
1st La Promesse Jankees & Floris Lampe
2nd Harmonii Keith Walton & Jay Beeken
3rd Hultaj Szymon Kucynski & Nana Jastrzebska
And so this wraps up a very successful, 60th Anniversary OSTAR race along with the TWOSTAR race. Our heartfelt thanks go to all the support volunteers on both sides of the Atlantic, a particular mention goes to the race office duty officers who covered all comms twenty four hours a day for the entire race, and Norman Bailey, USA Asst Race Director, without whose help, running the race would be a very difficult challenge in many ways.
Our thanks must also go to MailASail. We have a great relationship with our sponsor, and we are pleased to announce that they will once again be title sponsors for OSTAR TWOSTAR 2024.
Finally, MailASail OSTAR TWOSTAR 2024 will be showcasing a very exciting 3rd class. The ‘OSTAR Classic’ Class which will be for all boats that competed in races before 2008. We also welcome all sailors who have entered the race before with a special Half Crown Club members entry fee.
Further information including day by day commentary on the race from Nigel Mansell and Marcus Moser – the OSTAR 2022 winner – can be found on the OSTAR TWOSTAR Facebook page, also the winning boats stories as they unfolded can be seen on ‘La Promesse’ Blog – https://ned7576.com/ , ‘Lifgun’ Blog – https://lifgun.com/
Entries are now being accepted for;
- *Round Iceland Race 2023 (mile builder for ‘Global Solo Challenge’ and qualifier for OSTAR 2024)
- *Wolf Rock Race 2023 (qualifier for PF500)
- *Plymouth Fastnet 500 (PF500) Qualifier towards miles for OSTAR 2024
- OSTAR 2024 (qualifier for Plymouth to Bermuda Race – 2025 TBA)
- TWOSTAR 2024 – as above
- *OSTAR Classic – for boats who have entered races prior to 2008
*Races are open for Solo, 2 Handed 4 handed and fully crewed entries.
For further information or to enter these and other races please contact firstname.lastname@example.org