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Plymouth’s Royal Western Yacht Club has confirmed that it will run its OSTAR and TWOSTAR transatlantic races in 2020 from Britain’s Ocean City as it has done every four years since the first race in 1960.

“These races from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island will continue to be sailed as originally envisaged by Cockleshell hero Blondie Hasler, a test of skipper and boat against the North Atlantic Ocean,” said the club, which will next year celebrate 60 years since it introduced short-handed oceanic racing.

The OSTAR and TWOSTAR events will also be supported by Plymouth City Council as part of next year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations.

“Unfortunately the French organisers of The Transat 2020 have now decided to start their race in Brest rather than Plymouth,” the Plymouth club added. “This deprives the skippers and public of the opportunity to meet and share in the 60th anniversary of the OSTAR.”

The RWYC explained that The Transat was first sailed in 2004 when it decided it could no longer afford the cost or responsibility of running a ‘Grand Prix’ type event for the larger, one-design, highly sponsored and professionally skippered boats.

“The RWYC selected a commercial events organisation to run this part of the race while they continued to run the OSTAR, for professional and experienced skippers alike sailing any class of boat, as the corinthian event envisaged by the original participants 60 years ago.”

Published in Solo Sailing

After being abandoned mid–Atlantic during the short-handed OSTAR race in June, Michele Zambelli's Class 950 entry Illumina 12 has turned up on a beach in County Kerry this week.

The Italian Ostar skipper triggered his EPIRB after encountering keel problems, two weeks into the race. A Canadian Air Force helicopter, Rescue 911, picked up the solo sailor just six hours after the rescue was initiated. The skipper had no injuries.

As Afloat.ie reported at the time, storms wreaked havoc on the OSTAR fleet but Ireland's Conor Fogerty, racing in a separate division to Zambelli (See Conor Fogerty's correction via Facebook below–Ed) sailed on regardless to OSTAR triumph and the Gipsy Moth trophy. 

Illumina Class950Happier times - Michele Zambelli sailing Illumina. Photo: Facebook

Five month's later, Illumina has been discovered on a beach in Brandon Bay having travelled across the Atlantic to the south west coast of Ireland.

A local man, Mark Brodie, was one of the first to discover what was left of the state–of–the–art yacht.

Brodie was walking his dogs just a few metres from the site of the famous ship wreck of the Port Yarrock when his daughter asked him to come and look at a 'whale' that had been washed up on the beach.

'I was amazed to find the upside down yacht. It does not appear to be holed and the hull looks in excellent condition as well as the metal work,' Brodie told Afloat.ie

From the photo above it looks like the troublesome keel has long since gone but otherwise the hull, with some of the rig, still attached is all remarkably intact.

It is understood the hull has been removed from the beach by the local authorities.

Published in Solo Sailing
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#OSTAR - Ireland’s Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club has burned off the last 40 miles of the OSTAR in blazing style, zooming in to Newport, Rhode Island to cross the finish line at 1545 hrs Irish time this afternoon (Monday 19 June) in his Jeanneau 3600 BAM!, writes W M Nixon.

It’s going to be some day of celebration for the determined lone skipper newly arrived in America. At the finish, 21 days 2 hours and 45 minutes after leaving Plymouth, he was just four hours behind the two-handed Open 40 Rote 66 (Uwe Rottgering & Asia Pajkowska). The only other boat ahead was the Italian Open 60 Venti di Sardegna, which finished four days ago.

As for any remotely comparable competition, we’re talking in terms of similarly sized boats – including a BAM! sister-ship – being hundreds of miles astern. The spread of the storm-depleted fleet has been remarkable.

But even more remarkable was the way that Fogerty in his much smaller racer was in there slugging it out boat-for-boat with significantly larger competitors. It has been a superhuman performance, and clearly wins Conor Fogerty the coveted Gipsy Moth Trophy.

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Conor Fogerty is making great westerly progress this morning following a windshift last night in the closing stages of the OSTAR Transtlantic Race.

The Howth Yacht Club sailor is vying for overall honours after a storm ravaged crossing. He has 722 mailes to sail is the Gipsy Moth division leader, is second in line honours and second in Ostar division.

Fogerty on board a Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 departed Portsmouth 17 days ago.

Fogerty reports his major concern is that the auto pilot keeps cutting out on him but then restarts and functions as normal.

His shore team say he is 'on full sail and spending most of his time trimming'. He is expecting a bit more wind over the next day and then after that, he may see a little downwind sailing.

Main competitor Vento is sailing well again and at this rate should finish late this evening  to take line honours. From that moment on, BAM will be racing the clock for first on corrected time.

Track Fogerty's closing stages in this race here

Published in Solo Sailing

#OSTAR - The OSTAR and TWOSTAR fleets have seen a slew of retirements after a storm hit the fleet in the North Atlantic on Friday (9 June), leaving one yacht abandoned and another dismasted.

According to Yachting & Boating World, the ocean liner Queen Mary 2 changed course to pick up solo sailor Melvyn Wheatley after his yacht Tamarind had its mast go under and flooded through a smashed porthole.

Wheatley (73), who scuttled the vessel for the safety of shipping traffic, was down below when the yacht took damage — with his wife later commenting that he was lucky to survive the “nightmare” conditions.

Elsewhere, the Bulgarian crew of Furia, a Luffe 37-09 in the TWOSTAR, were rescued by a survey vessel after their boat sank, while the crew of the Sunfast 37 named Happy were picked up by a tug when their yacht dismasted.

Other retirements include British OSTAR competitors Keith Walton, whose Najad 490 Harmoni is Azores bound with mainsail damage, and Peter Crowther, whose Swan 38 Suomi Kudu has turned around for the UK also with mainsail issues.

Despite the “extreme conditions” in what were described as hurricane winds, and with swells persisting in excess of 10 metres, there were no reported injuries across the fleet.

And Conor Fogerty’s BAM continues apace, lucky to be ahead of the storm when it struck the back of the fleet on the east of the track.

As of last night (Saturday 10 June) the Howth Yacht Club sailor’s Sunfast 3600 was making big gains despite the tough conditions, second to OSTAR leaders Vento and only a few hours behind on time.

WMN Nixon adds:  Ireland’s Conor Fogerty clear of worst of OSTAR’s Atlantic storm

Ireland’s entry in OSTAR 2017 Conor Fogerty of Howth, having started on May 29th from Plymouth in Devon to race Transatlantic to Newport Rhode Island), has been putting in such a good performance that he has his Sunfast 3600 Bam safely to the west of the worst of the the mid-Atlantic storm mayhem which has resulted in a sinking, and five OSTAR/TWOSTAR sailors being rescued, with the liner Queen Mary playing a major role in the retrieval incident writes W M Nixon.

Although the clear leader is Andrea Mura with the Open 60 Venta di Sardegna. who has only 572 miles still to race, despite Fogerty being the smallest boat of those at the front of the fleet, he is in near-contact with the Uwe Pajkowska’s Open 40 Rote 66, which is second on the water and is actually two-handed in the TWOSTAR division. Pajkowska has 1158 miles to race while the solo-sailed Bam is on 1186 to lie either second overall or third, depending on which category is used for the rankings.

Update Monday, June 12:  

North Atlantic Storm Hits OSTAR & TWOSTAR Fleet
In the early hours of Friday 9th June, 60 knot winds and 15 metre seas were experienced by competitors, caused by a very low depression (967 mb). These extreme conditions caused damage to many boats with 3 emergency beacons (EPIRB) triggered. The Canadian coastguard in Halifax immediately reacted to the situation sending ships and air support to all the boats in distress.

The boats affected over the past 36 hours are:

TAMARIND - Suffered severe damage. Skipper well with no injuries. Rescued by Queen Mary en route to Halifax.

HAPPY - Dismasted. Both crew rescued by ocean going tug APL FORWARD. No injuries reported.

FURIA - Boat sunk. Crew resuced by survey vessel THOR MAGNA. No injuries reported.

HARMONII - Mainsail and track damage. Retired. Heading under engine for the Azores. Skipper ok, no injuries.

SUOMI KUDU - Mainsail problems. Retired. Heading back to UK. Skipper ok, no injuries.

All other competitors safe but still experiencing a 10 - 15 metre swell, no injuries reported.

The RWYC would like to thank all personnel at the Halifax Coastguard for their immediate and magnificent response to this emergency situation. All seafarers owe them a debt of gratitude

Published in Solo Sailing

Conor Fogerty's BAM Team report that the Howth Yacht Club Ostar sailor looks to have had a frustratingly slow night last night despite holding first in the Gipsy Moth division, third in line honours and second in the Ostar line.

Hopefully it was as a result of the eye of the low pressure being wider than expected and not anything else. His local competitors were also slow so probably the former. However, these rules didn't seem to apply to the two-hander Open 40 'Rote 66' who has taken a hefty jump.

BAM is up to speed again on a fast reach and has done a long term job on her sister 'Mister Lucky'. She is way down in the bottom of the low, will have large headwinds and will be feeling the pain of the southern route. Further up the track, 'Vento' the Open 50 has born off to round the Iceberg Limit.

She had been looking like she was going to go through some of the ice but clearly has decided safety first. She has put huge distance on her own race by going so far North. To put the ice in perspective, down on the bottom left you can see Titanic's last position and resting place. Remember, she sank in April, a mere two months earlier than the Ostar schedule.

Tracker here.

Published in Solo Sailing

Conor Fogerty has had a great first 48 hours in his 21–day transatlantic Ostar race. His Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 BAM made a significant play yesterday by heading North to the Irish coast and this has paid off in the short term.

The Open 50 'Vento' was late making this decision and had to turn some sharp corners and consequently lost approx 10 miles to BAM.

The other 3600 'Mister Lucky seems to have adopted a more southerly route and this represents the first large tactical long term split. So, what of the long term? The low out in the Atlantic has moved further North - too far to go over the top of it so this means that there could be significant upwind work which will make it a very tough race. Later today should see winds increase to 20-25 knots, pushing BAM back on to white sails.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Following the OSTAR skipper's Briefing on Saturday 27th, thoughts turned to weather routing and decisions on which of the main routes to take writes John Forde who is supporting solo Irish entry Conor Fogerty in the Jeanneau Sunfast 3600. It was interesting to see the dynamic at play between the competitors, some being extremely guarded and others more happy to discuss plans and share information for this gruelling sea marathon.

Of course besides OSTAR and TWOSTAR race prep, the weekend in Plymouth was dominated by the arrival of Gypsy Moth IV, to her home Port and Yacht Club, The Royal Western. Fifty years ago today or more precisely the 28th May 1967, Sir Francis Chichester arrived back, following the first solo circumnavigation of the globe to an extraordinary reception.

This was commemorated by all the attending skippers with a series of dinners on Saturday and Sunday which simply added to the feeling of history attaching to this pioneering Transatlantic race. Chichester was one of the original founding members of the Race and its first winner in 1960. He took 40 days and 12 hours whereas Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club, 'Captain Fogers' to his friends, amongst other names, all complimentary...is hoping for a circa 21–day crossing.

There was much to do during the day to fully ensure that all the boats were all well prepared as they could be. Sails out and dried, checked re–stowed in order of use or intended use. Winches serviced ,halyards lines and all blocks checked. A full inspection of the rig from aloft and of course the all important Electronic systems on board. The important matter of victualling for the race could not be left to chance. One stalwart English Skipper Neil Payter of Portsmouth has supplies for three months on his Yamaha 33, that's a boat not a bike, to include four cases of red wine! This is some character to meet, hugely entertaining and of course experienced. I should also mention Mervyn Wheatley who according to Conor has a bath on board!! ( He would later arrive at the start line on his Formosa 42 blasting out rousing military tunes, to include the Dambusters at full volume prior to the 10 minute gun). Colourful is the word.

The deadline for work completion was 17.00 each day as the hosting RWYC had thoughtfully arranged all dinners to commence at 18.00 preceeded by a drinks reception.The obvious thinking being this would allow the skippers plenty of time to eat , drink and socialise and still be home in bed by ten to cram as much sleep in, prior to the weeks of sleep deprivation which await.

Conor Fogerty Gipsy MothNew friends and old on the Gipsy Moth IV

However nobody told the Irish Two, a slew of French, Bretons in the main, and the crew of Gypsy Moth IV who all bonded over good food, wines, Guinness, and some seriously entertaining sing songs. There was no language barrier between the Brits, Irish and French, despite very few of the French having good English and vice versa. 'Bonjour', 'chanson', 'un autre biere' and 'bonne nuit' was as much as we needed, falling back on long forgotten school French like experts, hmmm.

War stories were swapped with past French class winners ,whom had brought a large and raucous fan club. The French along with the British had the most entries with six and five respectfully. Their boats in the main, all heavier older models, tried and trusted. The two Italian entries, the Open 50 Vento di Sardegna of Andrea Mura, the 2013 overall winner, the Class 950 Illumia 12 of Michele Zambelli, and the Portuguese Open 60 Taylor 325 had also come heavily supported.

BAM YB Tracker A well known restaurant from Fogerty's home port of Howth adorns the side of the Irish Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 for the transatlantic voyage

Whilst the Irish numbers may have been low the spirits most certainly were not. Conor has legions of tales to tell of his sailing adventures having completed two Circumnavigations, once as skipper of the Clipper Cardiff in 2006/2007 series, 31 TransAtlantic crossings and a log which at 350,000 sea miles he stopped personally recording, some years back. However, it is the tales from ashore in all manner of far flung places that are most entertaining. The Gypsy Moth crew which included the lovely Skipper Emily Caruso and First Officer Anna Kastanias Kirton and a slew of nationalities are also tied up with Clipper training and many previous Clipper races and legs. None of their English, Scots, Welsh or American crew however had ventured into the Solo realm unlike our Howth YC hero.

So after a fantastic weekend of hard work and play, to include meeting Tony Bullimore and countless veteran past participants including an 86 year old from the first race of 1960 ... race day arrived , Monday the 29th. Or perhaps we should say we think it arrived, as we were unable to see more than a boat length or two, with dense fog blanketing Plymouth Sound.

The Port was closed, extra time taken over last minute jobs and coffee and a postponment for one hour, until a 13.00 start.

The fog lifted at about 11.00 and Race Office declared boats could head to the start line at 11.30. A large flotilla of all types of floating craft, including yachts, power boats, racing dinghies, RIBs and large jam packed passenger ferries headed out at the same time to a fantastic spectacle , as the sun made an appearance and the wind freshened from the South West. After hoisting the main and tidying away fenders and warps I was struck by the thought that the next time the warps are uncoiled will be in Newport, 3,000 miles away. All going well.

Last farewells to the Skipper before jumping ship into a collecting Rib where up close photos could be taken for sponsors and friends. 

We moved to the Committee Boat end which consisted of Royal Naval Supply Vessel, Wave Ruler to await the starting sequence.

Conor had advised he was in no rush to the start giving the marathon nature of the race, particularly given a competitor put himself out of the 2013 race after a start line collision. Ouch.... that could only be described as seriously painful and embarrasing after months of preparation. Watch Conor Fogerty Live at the OSTAR Start HERE!

Of course there were some eager beavers who got to the line early and than had to run down away from the pin and favourable end of the line. Conors Bam came in all the way to the line on starboard , timed beautifully , cutting the line towards the pin not having to ease off. He was closely followed by the Aussie 3600 Mr Lucky, helmed by Mark Hipgrove.

Conor rounded the first mark to starboard, the Eddystone Light in first place although some had him in third. When we first checked YB shortly after the rounding he was first boat on the water, leading the far quicker competitors in the GM / Gpysy Moth, fleet for the highest rated boats.

This must have felt great and a huge confidence boost. Keep up with Conor across the Atlantic via the Tracker here.

BAM YB TrackerFogerty makes his mark after the first night at sea

This morning Conor had kept up the pace as he had intended, whilst coming down the Channel until clearing Lands End and the Scilly Isles.Yellow Brick had him first in GM class and first in Ostar line honours which is fantastic sailing.

Hopefully this is an omen for the rest of the race and the wind Gods smile down. Latest update sees Bam heading north towards the South Coast of Ireland to catch the fresher breeze.

A weekly satelite call to Cafe East in Howth, Thursday Evenings, time to be announced.

Published in Solo Sailing
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Thanks to modern technology – and more than a bit of assistance from intrepid solo skipper Conor Fogerty himself – Afloat.ie aims to bring you Irish OSTAR entrant Bam! live this morning from the start of the Transatlantic Race off Plymouth.

The Howth Yacht Club solo skipper is already onboard his Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 and the 15–boat fleet is heading out to the start in some very light winds. This has led to the OSTAR race start being postponed for one hour.  Watch the live feed from BAM3600 below from 12.50

Fogerty is racing to Newport, Rhode Island a voyage of approximately three weeks. Tracker here

Published in Solo Sailing
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The OSTAR transatlantic race start in Plymouth Sound today at 12:00 BST with Howth's solo sailor Conor Fogerty in the Sun Fast 3600 the sole Irish representative in the international 15–boat line–up. As Afloat.ie reported at the weekend, Forgety arrived safely in Plymouth and is ready for his race across the North Atlantic to Newport, RI, USA that is expected to last three week. See tracker below! 

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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