Geoff Alcorn – Wind of Lorne II – Finished July 24th 19:20 UTC

“Yesterday, I had the privilege of finishing the last competitor in this classic single handed transatlantic sail boat race off of Castle Hill here in Newport, Rhode Island. Geoff Alcorn on board Wind of Lorne ll, a Saltram 36, completed this gruelling event in 58 days.
Geoff (from Northern Ireland) may not have had the fastest boat in the fleet, but without a doubt he helmed one of the toughest, He endured the most suffering as he was out there the longest. Yesterday, he entered Newport Harbour taking the final cannon salute of the New York , Ida Lewis and Newport Yacht Club’s. Thus ending the OSTAR 2013.
Geoff Alcorn, if you ever decided to do this race again in a new boat. I recommend naming it Tenacious. The name suits you.
From Tom Bandoni, Billy Black and myself to you, Well Done Geoff, you honor all that raced this year across the Atlantic, alone.
Norm Bailey”

OSTAR 2013 – Race Results


1st Vento Di Sardegna Andrea Mura ITA     17D 11H 12M


1st Jeroboam Jonathan Green USA      22D 4H 25M


Multihull Class 1st Branec VI Roger Langevin FRA
2nd Cabrio 2 Asia Pajkowska POL
IRC Class 1 (Gypsy Moth) 1st Pathway to Children Richard Lett GBR
2nd Vento Di Sardegna Andrea Mura ITA
3rd Spirit Jac Sandberg NED
4th sec. Hayai Nico Budel NED
5th Ntombifuti Ralph Villiger SWI
IRC Class 2 (Jester) 1st Jeroboam Jonathan Green USA
2nd British Beagle Charles Emmett UK
3rd Sunrise Krystian Szypka POL
4th Tamarind Mervyn Wheatley UK
5th Suomi Kudu Pether Crowther UK
IRC Class 3 (Eira) 1st Wind of Lorne II Geoff Alcorn UK

As of 26th July 2013

Race Update – Tuesday 9th July

Geoff Alcorn aboard Wind of Lorne II is now less than 790NM from the finish in Newport, Rhode Island. He is nearly across the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and just on the edge of the French territorial waters of St Pierre and Miquelon, a remnant of French colonialism which lies some 2,373 NM west of Brest. Geoff is the last competitor in the Eira Class in this OSTAR; Anarchy, Olbia and Lexia all retired which means that he is guaranteed the first place prize if he can finish his race before the 26th July. Weather conditions south of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are light and confused making for slow progress. The Race Committee from the RWYC have now packed up shop, David and Jill Southwood have returned to the UK and handed over Race Office duties to the Plymouth team for the remainder of the race. Geoff will be finished and welcomed by Norm Bailey and Dianne Stewart of the Newport Yacht Club, they will extend the same warm welcome to Geoff as was received by all the other competitors.


David and Jill Southwood, Ralph Villiger, Dianne Stewart and Norm Bailey

Ralph Villiger of Ntombifuti is now preparing for the next leg of his summer adventure with a plan to head up to Greenland where he will meet a friend and enjoy climbing among some rarely seen landscapes. Ralph was presented the Newport, RI yachting achievement medal on Friday 5th by past NYC Commodore Norm Bailey and current Vice Commodore Stewart Abramson in front of a large crowd of fellow sailors in the Newport Yacht Club.

Race Director David Southwood will now enjoy a few days of R&R before he too sets off on his own sailing adventure. On Thursday 11th July, David will sail singlehanded from Plymouth down to NW Spain where he will be met by his wife and family for a well earned holiday. Bon Voyage David!

Alex Burgis will be following many of the other OSTAR boat’s eastward track back to Europe aboard Charles Emmett’s 36′ British Beagle. He will be sailing short handed with his mother in preparation for a planned Round Britain and Ireland campaign in 2014.

Ralph Villiger – OSTAR 2013 Aboard Ntombifuti

Written by Jill Southwood, Photos by Megan Beauchemin

Living in landlocked Switzerland, keeping his boat in the south of England, was just one of the enormous challenges that were to face Ralph on this epic journey.

He has owned Ntombifuti since 2003. The name means “The Other Mistress”. She was built in 1983 specifically for the 1984 OSTAR race.  He has sailed extensively around the Mediterranean Sea, from Barcelona to Croatia and Venice, and many places in between.  It was on his return journey to England that the idea of singlehanded racing began to formulate in his mind.  With all sorts of problems he put into Albufeira for repairs but his friend, who was sailing with him, was forced to return home leaving Ralph alone with his boat.  Why not have a go at singlehanded sailing and bring the boat home himself?

070113ROTA-1206He was soon back in Britain, at Cowes, having made a fair crossing of the Bay of Biscay and up the English Channel.This voyage served as a qualifier for the Azores and Back Race.  Not being a racing man, this was to be his first race singlehanded!  This was a comfortable race for him. It encouraged him to take on his even greater challenge – the OSTAR.  By completing the AZAB he had now qualified for the OSTAR!

This would turn out to be something totally different and unimaginably hard.

He enjoyed a good start in Plymouth crossing the start line amongst several other boats. He had rounded the Eddystone Lighthouse, and was heading toward The Lizard near Falmouth, when the autopilot started playing up and steering him off his set course.  Water also leaked in from somewhere and was soon above the bottom boards.  This was a disaster in the making after Ralph had taken over 18 months to prepare the boat to the best of his ability.  This in itself had not been easy, living so far away from her, and doing all the work himself.

Then the engine began to make a worrying sound – the fresh water pump was not working properly.  After two days he realised he could not carry out repairs himself so he took the agonizing decision to turn back towards France and the nearest large port of Brest.  He had to have engine power for all the electronics on board and had no alternative wind vane for self steering.  At around 0300 hrs the engine completely failed and the French Navy came to his rescue. They towed Ntombifuti into Brest.  This was to be a huge setback and he was utterly downcast.  He had to wait days for parts to arrive for the autopilot, bilge pumps and engine.  He was on the verge of giving up all together but his friend Uwe Röttgering (OSTAR competitor in 2009) encouraged him to carry on.

070113ROTA-1290At last after six days he was away again and out into the Atlantic. However, the rest of the fleet was hundreds of miles away. He was very alone. There was still a chance he could catch Wind of Lorne and possibly even Suomi Kudu if all went well.  His race would become more of an ocean passage than a race but his friends kept urging him on. Soon he was optimistic again.   Half way across the Atlantic Ocean he caught up and overtook Wind of Lorne.  This really spurred him on but realistically Suomi Kudu was too far ahead to catch.

When nearing Newfoundland he lost his internet connection.  He suffered increasing back pain clambering around the boat like a monkey on all fours.  He felt so isolated and alone and the weather was relentless in its dreadfulness.  It was cold, wet and foggy. The wind was constantly against him. Only once did he manage to use his astronavigation skills in the night sky.  Still he pressed on finding an inner strength he did not know he had. This was the agony and the ecstasy of ocean racing!

He had seen no life at all since leaving France but suddenly there was a school of dolphins, a good omen, which raised his spirits. This tiny event made an enormous difference in such dire circumstances.

He was off the Nantucket shoals when he managed to make radio contact with Asia Pajkowska aboard Cabrio 2 on her way home to Poland. Asia had sailed Ntombifuti in OSTAR 2000.  It was really good to chat to someone…. anyone just for a few minutes.

At last he was around Nantucket Island and a fabulous stretch to the finish followed.  This was the best sail of the entire journey, skimming along on a fast reach at 8 knots!

070113ROTA-1295After 35 days and 8 hours since the start in Plymouth, but only 27 days and 11 hours after leaving Brest, he was over the line at Castle Hill, Newport, Rhode Island.

It had been a monumental achievement in only his second race ever!  It had been a hugely testing experience which brought out every emotion possible in a normally very calm and mild mannered man.  He had made it and was tremendously happy. He had done it all completely alone.

He is the FIRST Swiss German to have completed an OSTAR and the FIRST amateur Swiss to have completed this Corinthian race in a monohull.

Would he do it again?   Yes, maybe, and aim to have a better race next time!

Meanwhile his adventure continues. Ralph is soon sailing for Greenland where a friend will join him to form a rope party in order to undertake a few first ascents of the granite mountains of South Greenland.

Ralph Villiger – Ntombifuti – Finished 1st July 15:12 EDT

Photos by Meagan Beauchemin

After 35 days, 8 hours and 12 minutes, Ralph Villiger crossed the finish line in Newport, RI and became the first Swiss German to complete the OSTAR. The early stages of Ralph’s race were plagued with difficulty forcing him to turn back to Brest, France to make repairs to his aluminium sloop Ntombifuti. Determined not to be knocked out the the race because of engine problems, Ralph spent an agonising 8 days in France as he watched the fleet extend their lead westward. Ralph was encouraged by friends to continue on and received a great number of messages of support. He plans to enjoy a week of R&R in Newport, RI before sailing home via Greenland.

Congratulations Ralph!

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

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!