Hasler proposed the race originally: "to encourage the development of suitable boats gear and techniques for single-handed ocean crossings under sail".
Hi Joe - Not to split hairs or anything, but if the purpose of the race was as stated - i.e., to encourage the development of suitable boats, gear, etc... - I think Paulo does have a point when he notes the OSTAR has become essentially a "sail what you got" race open to those who would otherwise not be able to compete in one of the Transats oriented more toward professionals.
Personally, I would suggest that the Mini Transat 6.50 is actually more in keeping with the spirit of Hasler's original goal. Classe Mini is a seething cauldron of innovation, attracting both professionals and amateurs, many sailing boats they've designed and built themselves. At the same time, it's a Transat that anyone can afford.
I was following the Mini 6.50 2013 Trophée Marie-Agnes Péron (MAP) race the past two days, and the competition in both the Proto and Series classes was incredible. And as if to reinforce that you don't have to break the bank to be competitive, the 7th placed Proto is boat 198 (we're up in the low 900s for 6.50s these days), while the boat that won (747) was designed and built by its original owner (David Raison) who went out and won the 2011 Transat in it.
So, if you compare / contrast the OSTAR in its current format with the Mini Transat, I think one might agree it is truly the latter that is encouraging the development of suitable boats, gear, etc. for solo ocean crossings. Thus, if the former were more like the latter, it would more truly reflect its founder's original intent.
Having said that, crossing oceans alone, in a sailboat, is a significant accomplishment no matter what you're sailing, so I in no way wish to diminish the achievements of the OSTAR competitors. It's just not much of a race, is all.
MrP (your neighbor at the west end of LIS)