Second round of prize giving!

DSCN3555An evening of merriment was held for the three sailors who missed the Line Honours Reception and were unable to collect their medals. Krystian Szypka, Mervyn Wheatley and Peter Crowther were welcomed warmly by a mixed crowd of Newport Yacht Club regulars, Commodores of both the NYC and RWYC, the Race Office team and both OSTAR and Bermuda 1-2 competitors.

Nico Budel and Asia Pajkowska

Nico Budel of sec.Hayai presented Asia Pajkowska with a small trophy in recognition of her amazing sailing accomplishments and the fact that she was the only female competitor to make the start of this year’s race. Asia has had a busy sailing year having already completed three transatlantic passages, she has set sail once again with her husband Alec, eastward bound and heading home for Poland.

The Veteran Corinthian Peter Crowther – Suomi Kudu

By Jill Southwood

P1020935Peter was offered Suomi Kudu by his brother-in-law David. Both agreed it would be a great opportunity to compete in his record holding 9th OSTAR, his 3rd in Suomi Kudu.

He completed his first OSTAR in 1972, 41 years ago!

He left his famous pub, The Green Dragon, Stoke Fleming, in the capable hands of his somewhat feisty wife, Alix. He sailed from Dartmouth, his home port, for the start in Plymouth with a string of admonishments ringing in his ears!

Always welcoming to his customers and friends he would now not speak to anyone at all for one month. It would give Peter and his friends a break from each other! However, they would avidly follow him on the OSTAR website.

His start was problematic with the jib appearing to jam – it was the worst most excruciating time ever for Peter. It could have scuppered his whole race. Miraculously it did not and he was away into a stiff SW breeze. He headed off round the Eddystone Lighthouse and went pretty much straight down the Rhumb line for Newport, Rhode Island.

He was to cover some 3,460 miles, averaging approximately 110 miles per day at about 4.5knots, with a maximum of 7knots.

His food rations lasted well. They were mainly vacuum packed, comprising of salami, lamb, gammon and even smoked salmon. He had plenty of onions, fruit and vegetables to keep him fit!

He lit his oil lamp every evening and created a warm and snug saloon for dinner. The extra weight of some 100 bottles of wine for his brother-in-law’s return trip, with one or two for himself, did not seem to affect the performance of Suomi Kudu!

He experienced  strong winds but no gales which was just as well since the trisail was keeping the wine tucked up safely! The instruments were kept topped up by the wind generator so astonishingly he only ran the engine for 10 hours on the whole voyage.

Overall, Peter’s race was very enjoyable. If he didn’t enjoy it, he wouldn’t do it. As yet he hasn’t discounted being at the start again for his 10th OSTAR!

He is returning to The Green Dragon, with a few tales of daring do, only hoping that he doesn’t have to buy too many drinks for his good friends!

Race Update – Ntombifuti and Wind of Lorne II

Ralph Villiger aboard Ntombifuti is just over 300NM from the finish line in Newport, Rhode Island. Ralph’s Atlantic crossing was delayed by many days after he was forced to return to Brest for repairs. Despite his long overall race time, his sailing speed has been impressive. Ralph is expected to finish on Monday 30th June.

Geoff Alcorn has caused great concern for those watching the Yellowbrick tracker but the Race Office has been able to keep in touch with him and we assure you that he is OK! He lost his genoa halliard and has only been able to use his inner staysail. It is our understanding that he also enjoys his sleep, heaving to from time to time to get a proper rest while the AIS and Radar alarms keep watch.

Peter Crowther – Suomi Kudu – Finished 26th June 21:13 EDT


Photo by Alex Burgis

Peter Crowther aboard the Swan 38 Suomi Kudu finished his 9th OSTAR just as the sun had set over Newport, RI. It was by far one of the most picturesque scenes of this year’s event.

Peter’s first OSTAR start was in 1972 and he holds the record for the most campaigns.

He completed this race in 30 days, 14 hours and 13 minutes.

Congratulations Peter!

Interview with Mervyn Wheatley

ACROSS THE ATLANTIC AGAIN – Mervyn Wheatley and Tamarind

By Jill Southwood

Photo by Billy Black

On New Years Eve before the stroke of midnight and the beginning of 2013 Mervyn and his wife Penny agreed that he would attempt his 4th OSTAR. From his home port of the River Yealm, near Plymouth, England, Mervyn’s meticulous planning began, which would pay off over and again for this enormous challenge.

Having owned Tamarind for 15 years and covered some 110,000 miles, many singlehanded, the boat was well set up to cross the Atlantic again.

A superb start saw Mervyn first across the line accompanied by the music of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines at full volume!

Inspite of winds against him, and poor weather conditions most of the way, Mervyn’s race was going very well until he approached the dreaded Grand Banks. Both the wind vane and his autopilot stopped working. Thirteen years earlier, during the 2000 OSTAR, a similar problem occurred. Mervyn hand-steered Tamarind for 13 days until he arrived at the finish having lost 28 pounds in body weight. This was not an experience he wished to repeat.

There was a chance of putting into St. John’s, Newfoundland but, with still 1000 miles to reach the Newport finish line, it could have made more sense to turn back across the Atlantic for home. Eventually he managed to reach Halifax, Nova Scotia, for repairs and a very warm and helpful welcome. Unfortunately, he had a nasty accident on the way, falling and breaking his nose. No repairs carried out on that apart from mopping up blood in the cockpit! After 24 hours, he was able to set off again having also bought a new CD player – no music aboard was unthinkable. His surprise ration packs, prepared by Penny, kept him going throughout his hardships.

Photo by Billy Black

The most desolate part of the journey was crossing the Grand Banks. It was very cold and wet with dense fog for four days. He experienced variable winds from all directions. One morning they started from the east at dawn, veered through 360 degrees, and become easterly again by evening. It was impossible to see anything, no land, no ship, no human being – just thick fog. If they hit something, they would hit it and so be it.

At last with about 10 miles to go the wind shifted giving Mervyn a very good run to the finish line after 30 days, 4 hours and 59 minutes. Royal Marines are very rugged but this race is extremely tough mentally. You may not see another human for over a month. You probably don’t know where the other competitors are. You are very, very alone on a vast and seemingly endless ocean.

Photos by Billy Black

Line Honours Winner Recption



Mayor Henry Winthrop, Commodore Lauren Anton, Ladies and Gentlemen.

As Chairman of the Race Committee, and Race Director of OSTAR 2013, I would like to welcome you to our Reception and reintroduce the Royal Western Yacht Club team here to day. They are Commodore John Lewis and his wife Biddy, my Assistant Alex Burgis, Commodore of the Plymouth University Yacht Club, and my wife Jill. Also in our team are Norm Bailey, who is a member of both the Newport Yacht Club and the Royal Western Yacht Club, and Dianne Stewart.

No-one can run a major international event like the OSTAR without a lot of help. I am indebted, not only to the team here, but also to the other members of my Race Committee back in Plymouth who have devoted their time and expertise during many months to this classic race.

Alex has done a fantastic job on the website and on media relations while assisting me in a 1,000 ways.

As always, my wife Jill has backed me to the hilt in running OSTAR 2013.

Norm Bailey has been of tremendous assistance dealing with arrivals, customs and berthing. He has been our linchpin here in Newport and we are extremely grateful for his tremendous contribution to the success of OSTAR 2013.

Diane Stewart, apart from assisting Norm and us, has produced superb goodie bags for all the competitors.

I would like to show our appreciation to Tom Bandoni who has taken us out to meet every arrival, no matter what time of day or night, in his 36’ RIB. On board has been Billy Black, the professional yacht photographer, who has taken superb images and video.

I would also like to thank the wonderful people of Newport who have been so kind and generous to us. Dr Robin Wallace, Chairman of the Rhode Island State Yachting Committee, has lent us equipment and has rendered valuable advice. The Newport Harbourmaster Tim Mills and his staff and the US Customs and Border Protection personnel have been superb.

Evan Smith and Kathryn Farrington and their colleagues at Discover Newport have gone overboard to arrange our accommodation and attend to all our administrative needs.

Claire Ernsberger, a member of the Newport Yacht Club, has also so kindly provided accommodation in her home.

I would like to thank Pantaenius Yacht Insurance for their magnificent support.

Commodore Lauren Anton, the Members and Staff of the Newport Yacht Club under Rudi Borgueta have been generous to a fault in making us welcome in their club. I wish the Royal Western Yacht Club served gins and tonic of the same size as Fran and his bar team. George Houlihan and his dock staff have been extremely patient and helpful.

Now to the Race.  And what a race it was!

They say the major achievement of any OSTAR competitor is to get to the start. There were 26 potential competitors for OSTAR 2013 but in the end just 18 boats crossed the start line. This was during the worst financial recession for a generation when sponsors and money have been almost impossible to raise. Vento Di Sardegna was the only sponsored boat. Younger competitors found it difficult to take such a long break from their jobs. Skippers had to complete a 500 nm qualifier. The starters ranged from an Open 50 mono and a Class 50 trimaran down to a junk rigged monohull which were expected to be first and last to Newport.

At 1100 UT on 27th May the Lord Mayor of Plymouth ordered HMS Somerset to fire the start gun and the OSTAR fleet was off. Asia Pajkowska in Cabrio 2 suffered a steering failure and was towed back into Plymouth for repairs. James Taylor aboard Anarchy retired on the first day unable to be fully prepared in time. The remaining fleet set off down the Channel into a fresh headwind. One or two boats went inside the Eddystone Lighthouse but retraced their steps to round it. Off the Lizard Jonathan Snodgrass in Lexia suffered a broken foremast and was forced to put into Falmouth. The weather deteriorated, resulting in Keith Walton in Harmonii incurring a torn mainsail. Both Keith and Jonathan both restarted only to retire later. Christian Chalandre in Olbia experienced a generator problem and retired to Brittany. Ralph Villiger’s Ntombifuti had a leak and a bilge pump failure, so he put into Brest for repairs. He restarted at the back of the fleet.

The Atlantic was not kind to the competitors in this race. The fleet faced depression after depression with mostly strong headwinds and several ferocious gales. One of these was the aptly named Tropical Storm “Andrea”. The routines of eating and sleeping were impossible to carry out. Most boats suffered damage. The Grand Banks south of Newfoundland and the coast off Nova Scotia were freezing cold and foggy. Every skipper has a story to tell of severe deprivation. In these conditions deficiencies on the boat exacerbate the extreme challenge posed by the North Atlantic.

Charles Emmett in British Beagle had problems charging his batteries to power his autohelm. He was forced to enter Halifax to take on more fuel. Mervyn Wheatley in Tamarind also had big problems with his auto pilot. This necessitated hand steering for day after day. Being understandably very tired, he tripped on a line in the cockpit and broke his nose. He also put into Halifax to effect repairs. Both rejoined the race.

It is of great credit to Jac Sandberg, in the smallest boat Spirit, that he arrived safely in Newport looking as if he, and his smart Corby 30, were on a Sunday morning sail.

Some great results were achieved;

Andrea Mura became the first competitor to win both the TWO STAR and the OSTAR. He did this in successive years.

Roger Langevin completed his second OSTAR beating his previous time by one hour.

Nico Budel also completed his second OSTAR and beat his previous time by one day.

Jac Sandberg’s lapsed time was only one day and sixteen minutes outside the record for his size of boat.

Asia Pajkowska, is the first Polish woman to complete two OSTARs.

As we celebrate today I would ask you to think about the skippers still at sea on their way to Newport. They are:

Geoff Alcorn, Peter Crowther, Krystian Szypka, Mervyn Wheatley and Ralph Villiger.

We wish them a safe completion to their voyages.

I ask the OSTAR 2013 skippers who are here to come forward when announced and receive a Newport medallion from the Commodore Anton.

  • Nico Budel
  • Charles Emmett
  • Jonathan Green
  • Roger Langevin
  • Richard Lett
  • Andrea Mura
  • Asia Pajkowska
  • Jac Sandberg

Ladies and Gentlemen please join me in congratulating the winners of their classes. They will receive their prizes at the Prize giving Dinner in Plymouth on 26th October.

  • Multihull Class – Roger Langevin – Branec VI
  • Gypsy Moth Class – Richard Lett – Pathways to Children
  • Jester Class – Jonathan Green – Jeroboam


  • IRC Overall – Jonathan Green

The City of Newport has kindly presented a trophy for the Line Honours Winner of OSTAR 2013.

It will now be presented by Mayor Winthrop

This goes to Andrea Mura from Sardinia, Italy in Vento Di Sardegna.

Mayor Winthrop, ladies and gentlemen thank you very much.

Photos by Billy Black

Mervyn Wheatley – Tamarind – Finished 25th June 11:59 EDT


After 30 days, 4 hours and 59 mins, Mervyn Wheatley and his Formosa 42 Tamarind romped across the line under his huge genoa, affectionately nicknamed ‘Patsy’s Drawers’. Mervyn has had a challenging race with a failure of his auto-helm system and a stumble across the cockpit resulting in a broken nose. Despite all this, he arrived in very good spirits and hosted a cocktail party aboard Tamarind for the Race Committee and other OSTAR competitors. An interview with Mervyn by Jill Southwood to follow.

Well Done Mervyn!

Krystian Szypka – Sunrise – Finished 24th June 20:30 EDT

Photos by Billy Black

Anticipating heavy winds beneath a huge Cumulonimbus that hovered ominously over Rhode Island, Krystian approached the finish line heavily reefed and demonstrating the seamanship and preparation required to successfully complete this epic singlehanded race. Local Polish support has been second to none, fans and supporters overwhelmed Krystian as he arrived into Newport Yacht Club. The 37’ Farr designed ‘Sunrise’ finished her long journey under a glorious sunset at 20:30 local time, 28 days, 13 hours and 30mins after the start in Plymouth last month. Congratulations Krystian!

Great Support in Newport, RI

While there are five sailors still en route to Newport, RI, the Race Committee wishes to extend a big thank you to our support team here in Newport.

Newport Yacht Club, Newport, Rhode Island. US base for the RWYC OSTAR Committee

Newport Yacht Club, Newport, Rhode Island. US base for the RWYC OSTAR Committee

Norm and Dianne of Newport Yacht Club with Jac Sandberg, Spirit

Norm has been our OSTAR liaison with the US Customs Authorities and has been of great assistance in controlling docking and berthing procedures at the Newport Yacht Club. Dianne has produced delightful welcome packs for the skippers and has been a wonderful host to the visiting OSTAR sailors and Race Officials from the Royal Western Yacht Club. Their generosity has been boundless and very much appreciated.

George Houlihan, Dock Master at Newport Yacht Yacht Club

The genial George Houlihan and his great team of docking staff have provided round the clock berthing assistance to the OSTAR Skippers regardless of what time they’ve arrived. Berths were always made available, even for the impractically large multihulls.



Rudy Borgueta, Newport Yacht Club Steward

Rudy Borgueta, as the Newport Yacht Club Steward has pulled all the strings to provide the various facilities required by the OSTAR Race Committee and the competitors during their extended stay at this very friendly club.



Tom Bandoni, owner of Tigger III

Tom Bandoni has been the driver of the OSTAR Committee boat, Tigger III. His incredible custom retrofit of a former Naval Special Warfare Rigid Inflatable 36′ Boat built for the US Special Operations Command has been an incredible asset. Many of the skipper’s first words upon arrival were to compliment this impressive vessel. Tom has been on hand day and night to provide Race Committee transport to meet arriving boats as they approach the finish line.

There are many others who remain as yet unnamed but we will endeavour to thank them all in a future article.

Charles Emmett – British Beagle – Finished 23rd June 08:30 EDT

Photos by Billy Black

Less than three hours after Asia Pajkowska’s arrival, the wind had picked up and blew Charles Emmett across the line on his Sigma 36, British Beagle. Charles has suffered with power generation issues during the race and after long stints of hand steering, he crossed the finish line in high spirits and enjoyed a warm reception at the Newport Yacht Club. He completed his first OSTAR in 27 days, 1 hour and 30 minutes. Congratulations Charles!