Competition stepping up for the TwoSTAR
With the initial deadline for entries past, the Two Handed Transatlantic Race, better known as the TWOSTAR, has attracted an experienced range of competitors in a wide selection of yachts of which any may take the line honours prize and the overall handicap prize.
Re-launched for this year by the Royal Western Yacht Club of England, the TWOSTAR follows the original shorthanded and probably the toughest course across the Atlantic from Plymouth, England to Newport, Rhode Island, against the prevailing winds and currents. This classic oceanic race was originally run by the Royal Western from 1981 until 1994 when it was won by some of the top figures in ocean racing including Chay Blyth and Rob James, who claimed honours in the first race in 1981 on their trimaran Brittany Ferries GB, Philippe Facque and late Loic Caradec aboard their maxi-catamaran Royale in 1986, Jean Maurel and Michel Desjoyeaux on the Elf Aquitaine 60ft trimaran in 1990 and Laurent Bourgnon and Cam Lewis aboard the Primagaz ORMA 60 in 1990.
This year, when the race sets sail from Plymouth on 3 June, bound for Newport, RI, Anne Caseneuve in her Multi 50, will be on paper the fastest boat. Anne knows what to expect from the gruelling course as she has entered the Original Single Handed Transatlantic Race twice. However it is a long time since a multihull successfully completed the course under race conditions.
Andrea Mura in his Open 50 Vento de Sardegna having had a class win in the Route de Rhum has what is probably the fastest monohull. But no one should discount Hans Plas and Thibault Reinhart's Open 40 Roaring Again. In the 2010 Round Britain and Ireland Race, Plas overtook all the multihulls was in the leading pack of five boats that were in sight of each other as they completed the last two miles to the finish line off Plymouth, after 2000 miles of hard racing. Thibault Reinhart is no stranger to Plymouth, having in recent years dominated the UK Fastnet 650 for Classe Mini yachts.
However Plas and Reinhart will face stiff competition from round the world sailor Michel Kleinjans and his Farr-designed Kiwi 40 Roaring Forty II, with Ireland Mick Liddy as co-skipper. This pair teamed up for the 2006 RB&I and Kleinjans has already completed the course three times in the OSTAR. As the North Atlantic rarely shows any mercy and the races are often as much about attrition as skill, the line honours prize could go to any of them.
The overall handicap prize in the last OSTAR was won by nearly the smallest boat in the fleet so and there are some strong contenders in the TWOSTAR. Pete McIntyre and Emma Nutt in their Sigma 36 Ruffian have demonstrated in the RB&I 2010 that they are a force to be reckoned with. Swan Yachts are represented by Nigel Philpott and Desmond Crampton on their Swan 40 Quid Non and David Perkins in the Swan 38 Suomi Kudu. Sailing the J/105 Jangada Too will be Richard Palmer and Trevor Drew.
The oldest pairing in age has to be Keith Gibbs and Janet Sainsbury in Change of Course. Both have competed in many RWYC ocean races and though they will probably be heard arguing in Plymouth beforehand, out on the water their combined experience will keep them moving west in all conditions.
With the Race Committee taking the decision not to charge late entry fees, the Royal Western Yacht Club has been brave enough to re-launch a race without a sponsor in difficult economic times, that is not dominated by a single class, where almost any competitor could walk away with one of the principle prizes.