Archive for the ‘OSTAR 2009’ Category

OSTAR The Movie

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Another fantastic piece of work from the guys at blOgSTAR. I can’t wait to see the finished full length feature…

Dinah completed OSTAR on the 15th June 2009…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

…having taken 20 days 22 hours and 35 minutes to complete the 3,200nm course. She finished 5th over the water, 4th overall, and 1st in class.

One sailor, one boat, one ocean.

The Original Single Handed Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR) is the world’s oldest solo ocean challenge, dating back to 1960. Founded by ‘cockleshell hero’ Blondie Hasler and first won by the circumnavigator Sir Francis Chichester, the race has upheld its Corinthian roots, providing aspiring professional and amateur sailors with the ultimate challenge. The race is run every four years.

Some of the world’s greatest sailors have taken part including Eric Tabarly, Pete Goss, Loick Peyron, Francis Joyon, Mike Golding, Michel Desjoyeaux and Ellen MacArthur. The Atlantic is the only judge and allows no room for mistakes, emphasising that the race truly is inspired by legends and sailed by heroes.

The Royal Western Yacht Club hosted the 13th edition of the Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island which started on the 25th May 2009.

dublin bay

Some More Finish Photos

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Billy Black is probably the best marine photographer West of the Atlantic. We were really lucky to have him in Newport for the race finish. He even brought Dinah’s shore crew out to see the last few miles of the race. Fantastic guy and superb photography.

A Close Shave

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

I promised after the finish that I would go back and fill in the gaps of the final two days of the race. When I last gave a proper blog, Oscar had overtaken me with his bold move North, leaving me with a lot of miles to catch up and the countdown to the finish getting more and more stressful.

I knew that tactically Oscar had trumped me by getting into the other weather system earlier, and that I effectively had one big move left before the finish. I pushed Dinah to run as deep as she would possibly go. I knew Oscar would have to sail at much higher angles due to his assymetric sails, and that running deep should at least get me into the same water, and the same weather as him. Once in the same conditions, I was comfortable that I could outsail him boat for boat. Dinah rose to the challenge, running at 155/160 degrees apparent wind through the night, at speeds well above her polars for those light airs.

By the time we were crossing Nantucket shoals, Oscar was reported 15 miles behind, and we switched back to defensive sailing. I was very uneasy though, as we were relying on unofficial position reports due to Oscars difficulties with his tracker. Just before sunset I was taking a moment to admire the Nantucket shoreline through binoculars, when I spotted a spinnaker on the horizon. Fearful that there had been a mistake in the position I had been given for Oscar, I sailed really aggressively thorough the night, especially along the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

As the sun came up it became clear that the boat I had been fighting against all night was not Oscar, but in fact Luca Zoccoli, from the class above me… Dinah really was punching above her weight! A light airs beat into Newport against the tide saw the result of many years racing in similar conditions in Cork Harbour pay off handsomely, allowing Dinah to pass Luca, short tacking up the shore, and finishing ahead of him on the water, despite the Open 35 being a much more powerful boat.

At 10.05 UT, Dinah crossed the finish line at Castle Hill lighthouse on the Western shore of Naragansett Harbour. She finished 4 minutes ahead of Luca Zoccoli on the open 35, and 2hrs 32min ahead of Oscar Mead on “King of Shaves” to win her class by 33min 12sec.

Coming ashore was an emotional experience, with friends, family and fellow skippers there on the dock. Sirens, cannons, cheering. It was very very overwhelming after 20 days of solitude. One of the wonderful demonstrations of the Corinthian spirit of this event is that the skippers go out to help the following skippers to come in from the finish line, put away sails, find those fenders that were last seen three weeks before, provide direction into the harbour, and most importantly deliver that all important first drink as a fully fledged member of the Half Crown Club. The atmosphere in Newport is just amazing, and the celebrations begin afresh with every new boat that arrives.

Messages of goodwill have been flooding in from around the globe. Sadly the waterproof pouch for my mobile phone failed to keep out the North Atlantic, and so as a result I have lost all my contact numbers and emaiol addresses. So many messages have come in from people, and I simply don’t know who they’re from! Apologies to anybody that didn’t get a personal response, but at least now you know why. Please everybody do send a text and put your name on it so that I can start building up my address book again.

The last of the tv, radio, and newspaper interviews are now complete. The reaction from the public has been amazing. Two gestures in particular stand out. Northport Yacht Club in Maine, seem to have adopted me as one of their own. Jim Coughlin, drove all the way down here to see me and my family, bringing gifts including a marvellous letter from the Northport Commodore, and a Northport Yacht Club burgee. Also, Cove Sailing Club, my first ever club in Ireland where I grew up and where I was once a committee member, have made me an honorary member and also sent a club burgee. Both burgees are now flying with pride on Dinah, and I am quite humbled everytime I see them.

Thanks to all for the many messages and gestures of goodwill. I will treasure them always. This photo was taken as I stepped off the pontoon having been handed one of the many tricolours that were there to mark the arrival of the only Irishman in the race.

Ostar Finish

Don’t worry, the beard didn’t last long!