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Southern Spars

Sailors gather in Plymouth ahead of the Ostar Transatlantic Race

by Sam Joseph on 21 May 2013
Jonathan Green, Jeroboam - OSTAR 2013 Sam Joseph
OSTAR sailing race will leave Plymouth bound for Newport, Rhode Island a week from today. This classic event, organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club is a singlehanded transatlantic race that attracts a mix of amateur and professional sailors. Twenty-one skippers have entered this year, including 69-year-old Mervyn Wheatley, a retired Royal Marine from Newton Ferrers in South Devon. This will be the fourth time he’s competed in the OSTAR.

Mervyn Wheatley, Tamarind: 'I enjoy the opportunity to sharpen myself up and I also enjoy meeting the other competitors, some of whom I have known for many years. This race has many challenges, getting to Newport is the main one! Also the knowledge that, if anything goes wrong, it is up to you to sort it out. I am not a good cook so freeze dried food is my main meal. However, I take lots of goodies: cake, flapjacks, banana bread, fruit, cheese, eggs & bacon. I have a glass of Sherry with peanuts every evening and, quite often, a glass of Merlot with the freeze dried meal!'

The 2,700mile race has a wide variety of boats, skippered by sailors from all over the world. This year seven nations will be represented. Polish sailor Asia Pajkowska will be the only yachtswomen taking part and Dutchman, Nico Budel will be the oldest competitor at 74 years of age.

American sailor, Jonathan Green will be using the race to get home! The 42 year old from Newport has been racing single-handed since 2007 but crossing the Atlantic is a new adventure for 2013.

Jonathan Green, Jeroboam: 'Getting my boat from Newport to Plymouth was my first transatlantic crossing and OSTAR will be my first transatlantic race so there are lots of firsts for me this Spring! The biggest challenge for me is to find the right balance of competitively pushing myself and the boat as hard as we can without risk of major equipment failure that might prevent me from finishing. As I learned on the delivery here, there are limits to what the boat can take and I need to sail as fast as possible within those limits to be competitive. I'm really looking forward to racing with and competing against the other OSTAR entrants. This will definitely be the highlight of the year, if not the decade for Jeroboam and I.'

The race takes place every four years. David Southwood, the race director in 2009 is in charge again this time.

David Southwood, Race Director 'The 'Corinthian' spirit of the OSTAR, which began in 1960 as a race for keen amateurs, remains strong and this year's fleet, comprising boats between 30ft and 50ft, provides a real mix of highly experienced international sailors, one or two of whom are professional sailors. It's an amazing event, and in a way the Corinthian element – open to all – from the biggest to the smallest of yachts, the hardened professional to the courageous amateur, is that which makes it as exciting as many of the professional races.'

John Lewis, Commodore of the Royal Western Yacht Club 'We’re delighted that OSTAR 2013 has attracted so many entrants and we are looking forward to their arrival in Plymouth prior to the start. This event is one of many prominent international sailing events the Club and the City of Plymouth is hosting this year, including the Classe Mini 6.50 Fastnet Race, the Route de Princes and the Class 40 Championships later in the year.'

The fleet of 21 boats will leave Plymouth Sound at midday on Bank Holiday Monday, 27th May. Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson KBE CB DSC DL, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Devon, will start the race from onboard the Royal Navy frigate, HMS Somerset. The first boats will be arriving in Newport towards the end of June.

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