OSTAR 2005

Following the decision by the Royal Western Yacht Club to split the OSTAR into two races, the ‘grand prix’ race for the 50 and 60 ft classes was held in 2004 under the ‘Transat’ name and organised by Offshore Challenges Events Ltd., and the ‘Corinthian’ race for yachts up to 50 ft was held in 2005 continuing the OSTAR name.

The return to the Corinthian spirit of the original single-handed trans-atlantic race brought out an entry of 42 (32 monohulls and 10 multihulls). Many of the skippers were experienced OSTAR competitors back for more; including Peter Crowther sailing his seventh OSTAR, Bertus Buys on his fifth, and Franco Manzoli for his fourth trip. This race also saw the reintroduction of handicaps with the classes determined by IRC/MOCRA ratings with separate classes for Open 40 and 50 yachts.

34 yachts came to the start but a collision with Chivas 3 forced Jacques Dewez to retire Blue Shadow from his third OSTAR attempt. Hannah White made a good start in her Open 40 Spirit of Canada, setting a challenge to Lia Ditton and Anne Caseneuve for youngest finisher and first female honours. There was interest also in the seven strong Open 40 class – how would the new Class 40s perform against the unlimited 40s of the experienced Ronnie Nollet and Michel Kleinjans – and whether the North Atlantic weather would favour the smaller boats.

The light conditions favoured the smaller boats on the first day but the wind then increased on the nose and the first retirements soon came. Anne Caseneuve was leading the fleet when her dream of breaking the 50ft record was shattered by a fall which badly damaged her knee. Roger Langevin in the remaining Open 50 (Branec IV) became favourite, but Pierre Antoine in the 43ft Spirit and Franco Manzoli in his 40ft Cotonella would prove strong contenders for the multihull honours.

Over the next few days six of the Open 40s retired with a variety of failures leaving just Nico Budel to win the class. Hanna White’s retirement due to autopilot failure left Lia Ditton in the small 34ft tri Shockwave as the sole female competitor. Two storms later, when halfway across the Atlantic, damage forced Michel Jaheny (Chivas 3) to become the last of the 16 retirements from the 34 starters.

The race settled down as predicted with Branec just leading Spirit and Cotonella, and the 50ft Olympian Challenger well ahead of Atlantix Express and Hayai. At the finish Langevin and Antonine went south but Franco Manzoli held course to the north and passed the other two to take line honours. Olympian Challenger came fourth to be the first monohull finisher. Lia Ditton crossed the line in eleventh place to become the youngest female finisher. Mervyn Wheatley (Tamarind) led the Eira class, the only class not to have any retirements.

Quest II’s arrival in sixteenth place was greated warmly. Gerry Hughes is profoundly deaf and overcame many problems to finish (including the loss of electrical power which restricted his ability to text his position). Cees Groot completed the arrivals finishing just before the time limit some 41 days after he started.

Click here for full results of the 2005 OSTAR.