Organisers of the OSTAR and TWOSTAR have confirmed the transatlantic races will go ahead as planned in May 2021

The MailASail OSTAR and TWOSTAR will go ahead as planned in May 2021.

Organisers the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC), confirmed this morning that they are “confident” they can provide a “COVID safe start and finish” to the 3,000 mile corinthian races, which start on 9 May from Plymouth.

It follows “continual communication with the Newport Yacht Club, our Finishing hosts,” said the club in a statement.

The solo and double-handed races were originally due to start from Plymouth in May 2020, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first OSTAR in 1960.

A yacht crossing the start line of the 2017 OSTAR

The OSTAR starts from Plymouth and ends in Newport. Credit: Paul Gibbins

They were later postponed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commodore of the RWYC,  Chris Arscott, said, “The OSTAR has been a breeding ground for some of the world’s best known and most successful sailors including Sir Francis Chichester, Eric Tabarly and Loick Peyron.”

“In 2007 the race returned to its Corinthian roots and has continued to offer the stars of the future a springboard as the toughest amateur/semi pro solo races there is,” he continued.

“This year will be no different with what is already a strong list of entries.”

The RWYC said that if the races needed to have an extended postponement at short notice due to COVID-19, then full refunds would be offered to entrants.

Many of the skippers will be using the 2021 OSTAR as their qualifying passage and training for the solo non-stop round the world event, Global Solo Challenge (GSC), which starts in 2023.

The GSC does not demand a race qualifier for their entries, but the rigours of the OSTAR can provide a platform for them to test themselves and their boats ahead of their global adventure.

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The last OSTAR took place in 2017.

The 15th edition of the event was the first time the Royal Western Yacht Club had started the OSTAR and TWOSTAR together.

The fleets were also hit by a severe storm – one of the worst in the history of the OSTAR – and out of the 21 boats which started from Plymouth, 10 retired and four were abandoned.

Just seven boats crossed the Castle Hill finish line in Newport, Rhode Island.

One skipper who was forced to abandon his yacht was OSTAR veteran Mervyn Wheatley.

He lost his Formosa 42, Tamarind when the yacht was rolled in a 70-knot storm in the mid-Atlantic.

A coachroof port on the starboard side was smashed and the yacht took on a lot of water.

Tamarind abandoned after being damaged in the 2017 OSTAR

Tamarind was scuttled to prevent her becoming a hazard to navigation. Credit: Pip Dando

Despite pumping for four hours, Wheatley was unable to save Tamarind, and he was rescued by the crew of the Queen Mary 2 luxury liner, who had been diverted to assist.

The crews of the TWOSTAR boats Happy and Furia also had to be rescued by nearby ships.

The Jeanneau Sun Fast 37 Happy, crewed by Wytse Bouma and Jaap Barendregt was dismasted.

Mihail Kopanov and Dian Zaykov aboard the Luffe 37 Furia had to abandon the sinking yacht after it hit a floating object.

A skipper on his yacht preparing to start a yacht race

Illumia 12 sustained keel damage in the Atlantic and had to be abandoned. Credit: Paul Gibbins

Solo Italian sailor Michele Zambelli also decided to abandon and was rescued by a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter crew when his yacht, Illumia 12 sustained keel damage.

The eventual winner of the race was Andrea Mura on his Open 50, Vento di Sardegna who arrived in Rhode Island four days ahead of his nearest rival.

Having won the 2013 OSTAR, he is only the second competitor in the event’s history to win successive OSTARs.

French solo sailor Loïck Peyron was the first after winning in 1992 and 1996.

The TWOSTAR winner was the German boat Rote 66, crewed by Uwe Röttgering and Asia Pajkowska.

Conor Fogerty on Bam won the Gypsy Moth prize.

The OSTAR was the first solo yacht race, which was established in 1960, eight years earlier than the Golden Globe Race.

It was conceived by Blondie Hasler, who wanted to use the event to test two of his ‘inventions’ – the junk-rigger Jester, with her self-steering gear and central, enclosed steering position to which all lines led, and his pendulum-servo vane gear.

The race has always been run by the Royal Western Yacht Club

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