Youngest ever competitor
When he started the 3,000 mile OSTAR as the youngest ever competitor 21 days ago, Oscar Mead had already set his goal out as being the youngest ever finisher. In his own words, “It doesn’t mean anything to be the youngest ever starter, that’s do-able, racing the Atlantic , and finishing, that’s harder!”
After 21 days of racing Oscar has just completed the race goal and set a record as the youngest ever finisher in the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic race. He sailed closest to the rhumb line of all competitors, battling through the ice fields of Newfoundland and led the Gypsy Moth class for most of the race. In a titanic struggle with Irishman Barry Hurley, he just lost out by 2.5 hours on the water and by just 30 minutes on handicap.
Oscar has been sailing since he was 8, he grew up in Hong Kong but sailing videos of Ellen Macarthur going round the world, combined with his innate desire to tinker led him to building models of what “his” Open 60 would look like.
From there it was a one way trip towards bigger boats and longer courses. His lucky break was a chance to sail the China Sea Race with Hong Kong sailor, Frank Pong, on Pong’s RP76 “Jelik”. Oscar ended up doing the 600 mile China Sea Race and the follow up inshore series on with “Jelik”, which by his own admission was a great introduction to big boat racing, As Oscar said “what’s not to like about sailing at 20 knots with the spinnaker up on a 76 footer in the sunshine!”
Oscar then managed to persuade his father that they ought to try 2-handed racing together and a J105 was acquired in early 2008. The two Mead’s then sailed the Royal Southampton 2-handed series, winning 5 of 7 starts over the season and totally dominating Class 1.
By mid summer Oscar was desperate to go singlehanded so he entered the Petite Bateau Channel Week, 7 days of racing across the Chanel and back in which he was “Top Rookie”. He only turned 18 the week before the series started to even be eligible to enter. After that he set his goal of sailing the OSTAR and did his 500 mile solo qualifier in late summer 2008.
In an appropriate weather window he was off, he completed his 500 mile solo sail out into the Irish Sea and back in 98 hours. Today, 9 months later, he has completed the challenge. In between time he did most of the work on upgrading his J105 himself, what he didn’t do he managed himself, and he found a sponsor in “King of Shaves”, a UK based men’s shaver company. Finishing means the end of 3 weeks at sea and the achievement of the goal.