Keith Walton and Harmonii
Keith learnt how to sail in dinghies, in the 1980s. His first boat was a Wayfarer, rigged and kitted out for cruising, encouraged by the legendary Frank Dye. He bought his first keel boat in 1996, and sailed her around the Western Isles for a couple of seasons. In 1999, he and his (ex) wife sailed the Atlantic circuit, returning to take delivery of his current boat HARMONII, a Najad 490, in 2001.
Since then Keith has crossed the Atlantic ten times in her, and visited nearly all of the Atlantic Islands. The last three crossings have been single handed. His boat is very much customised and fitted out for long distance, shorthanded cruising. During his last trip across heading west, he met up with Will Sayer in “Elmarleen.” Will had won his class in the 2009 Ostar, and was heading home to meet his partner Tam to take her on an Atlantic circuit holiday. Keith met up with Tam and Will again in the Caribbean and Keith, after listening to Will’s experiences, was determined to enter the next OSTAR.
HARMONii has undergone two major refits in her life, as well as many other upgrades and refurbishments. She is a typically Scandinavian cruising boat, well suited to living aboard for extended periods, and has been adapted over the years for shorthanded ocean sailing. She has also competed in various regattas in the Caribbean with moderate success.
Nico Budel and sec Hayai
Sailing has been Nico’s passion for a lifetime. In the very beginning Nico, married to Myrna and a proud father of five children, sailed with his sons on the lakes of Holland and went with them to Denmark, Norway, Belgium and England. He sailed with young students for many years, including entries in the Fastnet, Ijmuiden (Holland), Lagos (Portugal), Dutch Ijspegel races and others.
Nico has taken part several times in the classic short-handed races such as the AZAB, Round Britain & Ireland, Fastnet and Petit Bateau. In OSTAR 2005 Nico won his IRC class.
At the age of 74 years and still going strong, Nico is a true veteran of the short-handed offshore racing scene.
Jac Sandberg and Spirit
Based in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, Jac is married to Femke and enjoys life with their two daughters of one and two years old. He spends his professional life as a freelance management consultant and participates in business start-ups.
Sailing started as a young child on the Frisian lakes. Jac’s first race fever was gained in a variety of boats in Sydney during his internship for his studies.
Since then he has raced and cruised in the North Sea, both two-handed and single-handed, and he has just returned from Antarctica where he crewed on the 55-foot yacht Sarah W. Vorwerk. When Richard Versteegh asked him to be his co-skipper in the RB&I 2010, Jac decided to sell his quartertonner ‘Joker’ in order to buy a half-share of ‘Spirit’, a Corby 30. John Corby built Spirit in 1993 for the Round Britain and Ireland race. With great help from John on the design matters, Spirit recently gained a new rig, sails, rudders, engine, water ballast and electronics. Due to a mast failure west of Galway, the RB&I still is unfinished business, so they will be back in 2014.
Owning half of Spirit opened up the opportunity of participating in the OSTAR. Apart from the work done on Spirit, preparation has been done by increasing solo sailing distances from 100 miles up to 700 miles. In this he has been kindly accompanied by his brother Bertram, who also sailed single-handed on his J109. Thus, they were able to drink a pint or two at the port of arrival. Jac is grateful to all the above mentioned people who have enabled his preparation and participation in this race. The race is single-handed but the preparation is certainly not.
As an OSTAR first timer he just lets it happen! The race is seen as an exciting new challenge of enjoying life by racing all by himself in the North Atlantic.
Charles Emmett & British Beagle
Charles, 51, is married to Brenda, with a 21 year old daughter Victoria. He lives in Teddington, but spends as much time as possible in his house in the small fishing village of Portscatho, near the Falmouth Estuary in Cornwall. He worked for 20 years in the financial markets before leaving the city in 1999 to concentrate on his family business, The Fulham Prep School.
Brought up dinghy sailing in the Carrick Roads on summer holidays to Cornwall as a child, he has pursued his passion for sailing ever since. More recently he has enjoyed racing ‘Kali’ his Ajax 23 keel boat out of St Mawes Sailing Club, as well as coastal and offshore racing in ‘British Beagle’.
‘British Beagle’ is a Sigma 36 which Charles bought from his good friend Marco Naninni having just competed in the 2009 OSTAR. Since acquiring ‘British Beagle’ he has raced predominately solo with The Solo Offshore Racing Club with several class wins in both coastal and offshore series, winning IRC overall for the 2012 offshore series. He has also competed regularly 2-handed, both with RORC and Royal Southampton YC, finishing 2nd in IRC overall 2-handed in the 2011 Fastnet, with his friend and co-skipper Robin Edwards. During the summer the boat is based in St Mawes and raced fully crewed in Falmouth week and many local regattas. OSTAR 2013 will be the first Atlantic crossing for Charles.
Multi 50 skippered by veteran French yachtsman Roger Langevin enters OSTAR 2013!
Roger, a maritime pilot for 27 years and based in Le Havre, has sailed more than 100,000 miles in singlehanded events on both mono-hull and multi-hull boats.
Races include well-known and prestigious events – Transat Jacques Vabre, Transquadre Solo, Round Britain and Ireland, and Route du Rhum. Now President of Branec Oceanic Association which aims to promote offshore sail racing events, Roger manages a crewed 50’ multihull.
Roger’s boat, Inventaire de Branec IV, was built in 1990 by Seatec. Second in a series of three trimarans designed by Nigel Irens (The first, Notka, for Claude Develay the second, DUPON DURAN II, for Pascal Herold, and the third, CLM, for Hervé Cléris), Mike Birch and Halvard Mabire oversaw construction. With their extensive experience in the construction of offshore multihull sailboats, they have participated in making fast and strong trimarans.
For more information about Roger and Branec IV visit his website www.branec.com.
Kathryn ‘Kass’ Schmitt in Zest is aiming to be the first American woman to finish the OSTAR
Kass learned to sail dinghies on Lake Mendota while studying Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 90s. She then took up yacht racing in Chicago.
As a BBC employee, she attended an open day at the BBC Sailing Club’s base in Teddington and, while sailing one of the club’s dinghies on the Thames, managed to get the mast stuck in a tree! This experience drove her to the open sea, and she spent a couple of seasons sailing dinghies out of Brighton Marina as a member of Lagoon Watersports.
In 2007 she left her job at the BBC Weather Centre to crew on a 40 foot classic teak yawl from the Canaries to Brazil via Senegal and the Cape Verdes. It was on this crossing that her desire to cross the Atlantic on her own boat was born.
On her return she paired up with then Cowes-based race navigator and yachting journalist Rupert Holmes. She gained valuable boat repair skills by assisting Rupert in rebuilding Minestrone, his Extension 24 Quarter Tonner. This process was documented in a year-long series of articles in Practical Boat Owner magazine. In addition to racing and cruising Minestrone, mostly double-handed, they have extensively cruised the Aegean double-handed in Rupert’s Discovery 3000.
Kass has gained racing experience by crewing whenever possible with classes such as the Etchells, Dragons and J/80s. In 2010, after a couple of seasons borrowing boats, she finally took the plunge into full boat-ownership by buying ‘Sensation’ the Illusion originally owned by the legendary Vernon Stratton. She reckons four years of chasing the superstars of the Bembridge Illusion fleet has taught her more than many learn in a lifetime of ordinary club racing.
GBR 536 ‘Zest’ is a Rob Humphreys 36 foot custom design, built by Farrow & Chambers in strip cedar epoxy. Kass is surprised but delighted to be looking forward to yet another Atlantic crossing in a wooden boat.
Follow Kass as she prepares and competes at www.sailingwithzest.com.
Kass Schmitt has withdrawn from the 2013 OSTAR and hopes to return to be part of the 2016 event. Read more here.
Asia Pajkowska and Cabrio 2
Asia, who lives near Warsaw in Poland, has local connections with South Devon having been a member of the Salcombe lifeboat crew.
In 2006-2007 Asia sailed SY Mantra ASIA, a Mantra 28, with another girl from Darwin, Australia to Salvador, Brasil. Then in 2008 she sailed the same boat singlehanded around the world from Panama to Panama in 190 days, making only one stop in Port Elisabeth, SA to avoid a huge storm.
In 2010-2011 she sailed together with her partner on the same boat from Florida, USA, across the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea to Monfalcone in Italy.
Asia has been a previous OSTAR competitor having taken part in the 2000 race on SY Ntombifuti and finishing 4th in her class.
Cabrio 2 is a new cruising catamaran designed by Jurgen Peter from Kiel, Germany, series built by Andrzej Arminski at PBJ Shipyard in Szczecin, Poland, and marketed in UK by Broadblue Ltd. The catamaran is 12 m long, 6.7 m wide and features a unique semi-open cockpit/saloon. A sistership to Cabrio 2 called Cabrio won the Bridgedeck Catamaran Class of the 2010 JP Morgan Round the Island Race.
Asia will sail Cabrio 2 twice across the Atlantic before competing in the OSTAR 2013.
Richard Lett and Pathways to Children.
Richard recently retired from the Metropolitan Police as a Personal Protection Officer to the Royal Family and was awarded the MVO in the 2013 New Years Honours.
Richard learnt to sail whilst at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook as a way to ‘escape’ the school boundaries; learning a skill that has become a lifelong passion.
Richard has raced in two double handed Round Britain and Ireland races, two double handed Fastnets, and races with the Solo Offshore Racing Club, RORC and the Royal Southampton YC in their solo and shorthanded classes.
Racing for ‘Pathways to Children’, a non profit based in Minnesota USA, Richard will be raising funds to support their mission of providing Education and Health for the children of Mumbai, India. ‘Pathways to Children’ also provides volunteering opportunities for US Schoolchildren to travel to India, taking part in essential education and health programmes. The website at www.pathwaystochildren.org will display daily blogs, photographs and updates on Richard’s progress.
If Richard makes it to Newport RI, he intends to ship to Chicago and enter the ‘Mackinac’, the longest fresh water race in the world.
Pathways to Children, a VQ32 (aka ‘Velocity Girl’). was designed by Dick Koopmans for solo and shorthanded offshore racing.
At 32 ft, one of the smaller yachts in the race, she is beautifully finished, inspires confidence and is a joy to sail. With a new suite of Millennium sails designed by Peter Kay at One Sails, Richard is looking forward to her re-launch and practice in April.
Peter Crowther and Suomi Kudu
Former yachting journalist and fisherman, 71 year old Peter Crowther, has been landlord of the Green Dragon pub in Stoke Flemming, near Dartmouth for the past 20 years. He first entered the OSTAR in 1972, in the 64 year old gaff cutter Golden Vanity, and took 89 days to finish.
Four years later he appeared in the junk rigged schooner, Galway Blazer, and again in 1988, 1992 and 1996. In the 1996 race the boat sank 500 miles west of Ireland and Peter had to take to his life raft. In 2000 he suceeded in Predator, a 36ft Julian Everitt design.
He failed in 2005 in the Swan 38 Suomi Kudu after the forestay pulled out of the foredeck and mangled the mainsail. He completed the 2009 race in 29 days. Peter has also taken part in two Azores and Back races and three Round Britain and Ireland races, as well as attempting a solo circumnavigation in 1979 in Galway Blazer which ended after 130 days at sea when the boat capsized and lost both masts.
This will be Peter’s ninth OSTAR.
Geoff Alcorn and Wind of Lorne 2
Geoff bought his first boat, a 21’ bilge keel yacht, in 1973 and based it at Carrickfergus Sailing Club on Belfast Lough. He learned to sail in it by cruising the Irish Sea and West Coast of Scotland for a couple of years with a friend who was an instructor in the Sea Cadets.
Geoff then bought Wind of Lorne, a long keel 28’ wooden Lorne Class designed and built by McGruers on the Clyde. In this he cruised extensively on the West Coast of Scotland, Outer Hebrides. St Kilda, Irish Sea and the Scilly Isles before sailing two handed to Iceland and the Faroe Islands in 1982.
Unfortunately, Wind of Lorne was destroyed after breaking from its mooring in a storm.
It was replaced by a Saltram 36 hull, from K R Skentleberry in Plymouth. Built to an Alan Pape design it was completed as a relatively heavy, long distance cruising boat and named Wind of Lorne 2. Geoff successfully competed in the Round Britain and Ireland Race in 2002 and subsequently qualified for OSTAR 2009 by sailing single-handed around Ireland over the New Year 2008/9.
Geoff successfully completed the OSTAR 2009 course in 43 days but suffered a lack of wind in the final stages. His return trip across the Atlantic in 2010 from Newport to Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland only took 31 days. He used his OSTAR 2009 participation to raise funds for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and intends to do the same in OSTAR 2013.