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The Transat sets sail May 2016

by The Transat on 25 May 2013
The start of The Transat 2008 from Plymouth, UK to Boston, USA. © Th.Martinez/Sea&Co
The next edition of The Transat, the successor for pro-sailors to the original solo race across the North Atlantic that was born as the OSTAR, will commence in May 2016. As we wish the sailors good luck for the start of the Corinthian version for smaller boats this Bank Holiday Monday, 27th May from Plymouth, UK, this serves as a timely reminder to establish a marker for The Transat, or La Transat Anglaise as its known in France.

The OSTAR (Observer Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race) was created in 1960 by a handful of pioneering sailors. The

race was organised every four years by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) from 1960 through to the 2000 event, albeit with a lot of involvement from the French event organiser Pen Duick in the 90s, in order to cater for the demands of the professional campaigns that dominated the event. After the 2000 edition with the future of the event in doubt due to the withdrawal of sponsors and consequently Pen Duick, OC Sport stepped in to save the event and acquired the rights to the professional part for boats of 50 foot and upwards.

OC Sport renamed it The Transat in 2004, and added Artemis as Title Partner in 2008, focusing in that year on the IMOCA 60 Class, the boats that compete in the Vendée Globe in the same year. This race can be relived here. The 2012 edition was deferred at the request of IMOCA due to some commercial complications for them with another event organiser who had to delay their event from 2011 to 2012. However, the next edition of The Transat is planned for May 2016 in its traditional pre-Vendée Globe slot, although the decision on which classes will be invited has not yet been finalised. The fleet will follow its traditional tough North Atlantic course from the UK to North America.

The RWYC continues to organise a solo transatlantic race for Corinthian and non-professional sailors that is still known as the (O)STAR, and that is restricted to boats of up to 50 foot only. This race usually falls a year after the professional big boat race ie 2005, 2009 with the next edition starting on Monday with 21 entries. Both the amateur Yacht Club event and The Transat have the right to link to the history of the original race created in 1960, and what a rich history it has produced.

The first race was competed by just a handful of pioneering sailors including Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler who coined the phrase: 'One man, one boat, the ocean'. There has been tragedy, dramatic rescues and exceptional drama since the race began in 1960. Over time The Transat, as it is known today, has evolved and now serves the professional end of offshore sailing. But there are few modern day races that can reflect on such a long and outstanding history.

IMOCA 60 Monohull record: 12 days, 11 hours and 45 minutes set by Loick Peyron (FRA) on board Gitana in 2008
Multihull 60ft record: 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes set by Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA) on board Geant in The Transat website

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