OSTAR 1960

1960 the First STAR

Fifty declarations of intent were received by the organisers but in the end only five boats crossed the start line off Plymouth, and remarkably all five reached New York on the other side.

Self-steering gear was in its most basic homemade form, roller-reefing sails were just a dream and there were no satellite navigation systems just hand-held compasses and sextants.
These five pioneer yachtsmen took very different options, with Blondie Hasler (Jester 25ft) opting for an extreme Northern route, Francis Chichester (Gipsy Moth III 40ft) and David Lewis (Cardinal Vertue 25ft) on the Great Circle route and Val Howells (Eira25ft) and Jean Lacombe (Cap Horn 21.5ft) on the Azores route.

Little was heard from the competitors during the race and fears grew for their safety but, finally, Chichester arrived 40 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes after leaving Plymouth. “Every time I tried to point Gipsy Moth at New York the wind blew dead on the nose” said Chichester. “It was like trying to reach a doorway with a man in it aiming a hose at you. It was much tougher than I thought.”

Hasler reached New York in 48 days but second place was no disappointment. He had proved that his self-steering system was more than efficient to handle the 25ft Jester with a single Chinese lugsail on an unstayed mast, and claimed he had only had to take the tiller for one hour of the entire journey.

Jean Lacombe was the final skipper to arrive, in 74 days, having started 5 days after the others. His Cap Horn was the smallest boat in the race and he had been delayed in Le Havre by bad weather after sailing from America. With an earlier east-west single-handed transatlantic crossing (in an 18ft boat), Lacombe was possibly the most experienced competitor on the race.

Three other yachtsmen had entered but were unable to start. American yacht designer Arthur Piver sailed his trimaran (Nimble, 30ft) across but had to return to the US before the start. Walter Kaminski, from Berlin, suffered damage to his yacht (26ft cutterSayonara) while being loaded onto a ship. R.M. Ellison withdrew his 34ft cutter (Blue Haze) considering it unfit for the crossing.

Plymouth – New York
11-Jun-60 10:00
Started: 5
Finished: 5
Elapsed Corrected O/A Class Corr
Skipper Yacht Type LOA Class Time Time Place Place Place Nation
Chichester, Francis Gypsy Moth III M 40 40 12 30 1 GBR
Hasler, Blondie Jester M 26 48 12 02 2 GBR
Lewis, David Cardinal Vertue M 25 55 00 50 3 GBR
Howells, Val Eira M 25 62 05 50 4 GBR
Lacombe, Jean Cap Horn M 21.5 74 5 FRA

Yachts entered but did not start: Nimble; Sayonara; Blue Haze.

60 – routes