written as PM to OP - not enough posts to pm so here it is
Hi, my name is Alex and I'm a student at the University of Plymouth in the UK, studying Navigation and Maritime Science. I'm a mature student (30 years old) and I've come from an IT/web development background to follow a career in yachting.
I was lucky enough to marry these two passions together when the opportunity came up to get involved with the prestigious and historic OSTAR which is run by the Royal Western Yacht Club of England.
I got a pingback from your links on these boards through our website and I was sorry to read that you feel the 2013 event is underwhelming when compared to previous events.
I wanted to comment on a couple of your points and hopefully share some ideas that will change your mind on this exciting, albeit under subscribed 2013 event.
Firstly, your point about the Transat race and the history of professional racers taking part.
The wiki page is misleading, the Transat 2004 and 2008 events were actually in no way related to the historic RWYC OSTAR events.
To my knowledge, Michel Desjoyeaux has not sailed an RWYC OSTAR campaign. Other than that, your list of previous competitors is correct, and what a list (heroes)!!
Since the OSTAR's inception in 1956 and first race in 1960, a huge range of boats have taken part, from cruisers to performance racers. Every race has seen a real mix of competitors, all doing this amateur race for their own personal reasons and in "Corinthian spirit".
In 2000, the OSTAR, then known as Europe 1 New Man STAR, saw many professional racers who were following the tradition of using the event as a feeder and training ground for bigger professional solo events such as Vendee. The RWYC is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers and many of the race committee have been in that position since the first race! The demands of professional race teams and their shore crews quickly outgrew the facilities and capabilities of the club. There was additional strain with the insurance requirements for such a fleet that RWYC was not capable of covering. As such, after the 2000 race the organisers added the following to the standard NoR, "Boats over 50 feet will only be accepted on a case by case basis due to an agreement with OC Events. IMOCA 60 and ORMA 60 class boats shall not be accepted."
The Transat was born! A professional event was organised and raced, completely separate from the OSTAR. This was done again in 2008 with title sponsor Artemis. After that, the race organisation for the Transat completely collapsed and the event has not been repeated.
The OSTAR NoR amendment remains. The event was intentionally returned to a small yacht club event targeted at non-professional sailors.
The 2009 OSTAR saw the end of several key organiser's time with the event. Because of this, the 2013 project was late off the ground and suffered a lack of PR
and marketing in the early days. This year's event also coincides with several large solo events such as Class 40 Worlds. This has led to the event being a bit disappointing in terms of numbers but check this out;
The Formosa 42 you mentioned is skippered by a veteran of the race, Mervyn Wheatley. This is his 4th OSTAR and he has won his class in previous years!
Nico Budel (74) has also won his class on the Class 40 in 2005 OSTAR.
The old trimaran came 2nd in the 2005 event, Roger Langevin has a long sailing CV with much success and he is mostly doing this for fun.
One of the leisurely-paced tracks to follow is Peter Crowther on his Swan 38 Suomi Kudu
, this is his ninth OSTAR! In '72 he did it in a gaff and it took him 89 days!
The story, passion and history that you say is missing from this 2013 event is actually the only thing left. The race was designed as a bet between friends whilst on a train. Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler conceived of the race and ran it for nothing more than personal achievement and the half crown (old money) bet. Most of this year's competitors are just here for a tick on bucket list.
Check out Jac Sandberg's Corby 30 'Spirit'. I think it's an incredible little boat, 3rd highest handicap after the Open 50 and Class 40.
While the future of the race remains uncertain, I am still dedicated to doing my part in making it great, even if it's without the celebrity sailors and their F1 race yachts.
Anyway, if your eyes made it this far down, congratulations.
I hope you found this a little bit informative and hopefully it helped change your mind about the event. Leave the pros to the pro events and enjoy these amateurs demonstrating true courage and daring by doing what most of us only dream of!
With warm regards,
Alex Burgis - OSTAR 2013 Committee
The views expressed in this message may not reflect those of the author or any other person real or imagined. Sarcasm and internet anonymity often result in messages on the interwebs with no actual basis in reality.