Interview with Andrea Mura, Line Honours Winner OSTAR 2013

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Photo by Billy Black

Interview by Jill Southwood

“La sfida della vita è più paurosa della morte.
- “The challenge to live is more frightening than death.”

Upon arrival at Newport, Andrea’s first words were, “MAI PIÙ!” – NEVER AGAIN! “My first and last OSTAR.”

It had been my dream for many years to compete in the OSTAR. After an enormous amount of work, practice, testing and on to qualifying, finally I had the 50’ monohull racing boat Vento di Sardegna as well prepared as possible.

The journey from Cagliari to Plymouth was long and hard with very strong winds against me the whole way. The Portuguese coast and Cape Finisterre were the most challenging of all.

The start in Plymouth Sound was fast but not without a close encounter in trying to avoid another competitor on the line who could not manoeuvre. It could have spelt disaster for both of us.

Heading rapidly westward along the SW coast of England, I carried out repairs but had left Eddystone Lighthouse to port instead of starboard. I turned back from the Lizard and with a wind shift, changed sails whilst getting soaking wet. 80 miles and 7 hours later, I rounded Eddystone to starboard. Two others had to make a similar track in pouring rain, SSW F6/7.

I had some catching up to do but gradually worked my way up through the fleet as we sped out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather grew worse and worse – one depression after another hit. I wasn’t to know it but I would go through 5 storms during my OSTAR journey.

I was endlessly on the foredeck changing sails, one down, hank on another. My fingers were soon splitting with the cold, making it difficult to work.

The temperature was never above 5°C, the rough seas the same, crashing over me. The whole way I was utterly drenched, all my clothing saturated, my boots filled with sea water.

It was freezing cold and I was unable to catch more than a 15 minute nap at a time.

For 15 hours I was unable to go on deck and was thrown about down below like a ping pong ball in a washing machine. This was worse than hell and I felt very nauseous.

Then tropical storm ‘Andrea’ hit; it couldn’t get any worse. Instruments, VHF, AIS and autopilot were damaged by the force of the seas shaking the rigging. A lot of sea water came in down below, soaking everything – a truly dreadful experience. The radar broke away from the mast with the force of the slamming waves.

At last, I was round the Nantucket light and heading towards the finish line with about 80miles to go, making a steady 7+ knots.

I had managed to take the lead and hold onto it.

I have raced all over the Atlantic, Mediterranean and beyond; they were like picnics in comparison to the OSTAR. I prefer to navigate 100 days downwind than 17 up!

This is not a race for sailors or cruisers. It is for gladiators. Fight for everything or die. This is the ultimate challenge.

Does anyone navigate these days?

By Jerry Freeman

Imagine the scene: it is June 2013 in mid Atlantic, the gyro auto-pilot is steering and the AIS and Sea Me are keeping a lookout by all available means,

The Ostar skipper is engrossed at the chart table reviewing the latest wind grib files down loaded via the Iridium connection and running the routing software to see where the computer has decided the next crucial tack should be.
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Official Artist for OSTAR 2013

Richard Allman 1Richard Allman has been appointed the Official Artist for this year’s race.

For several years Richard has been covering this sort of event, working on the race preparations from the pontoons directly onto his big drawing boards.


Richard Allman 2He says “I love trying to record the hustle and bustle of the race preparations – last minute work, checking the sails, loading provisions etc, with the mass of rigging, flags, logos and banners providing a dramatic backdrop.”

For more information, see

OSTAR VETERAN – “Racing Solo Across the Atlantic”


By Jerry Freeman

This is the time of year when sailors glance casually at a chart of the North Atlantic to check if it really is only 2810 nautical miles from Plymouth, England to Newport, Rhode Island. The motivation for this long term passage planning is the 14th edition of the Original Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race – OSTAR – which starts on May 27th, Bank Holiday Monday, under the green and pleasant hills of Plymouth Hoe. The crowds will be massed in their thousands to bid fair winds to the thirty intrepid skippers who must battle westward along a trail first blazed in 1960 by Francis Chichester in Gypsy Moth III and Blondie Hasler in Jester for the small wager of a half-crown.Many sailors dream of the challenge when simply put, starting from Plymouth, turn the bow to the west toward the setting sun and keep going for three or four weeks to America, on your own.
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