The 14th OSTAR began yesterday in windy conditions in Plymouth Sound. In gusts exceeding 20 knots, 17 boats formed up for the start of the single-handed race across the North Atlantic towards Newport, Rhode Island, but not without incident.
The multihull Cabrio 2 skippered by Asia Pajkowska suffered a loss of steering due to a hydraulic fluid leak. She was towed back to Plymouth to resolve this problem and restarted later.
James Taylor decided that his Contessa 32 Anarchy was not ready for a transatlantic crossing and took the sensible decision to retire just after the start. Kass Schmitt had made a similar decision a few days earlier, but sailed down from the Solent in Zest to wish her fellow competitors good luck.
On the start line disaster nearly struck as Peter Crowther on board Suomi Kudu and Andrea Mura in Vento Di Sardegna who came too close for comfort. Luckily damage seems to have been averted.
During the afternoon of the first day it became obvious that some skippers had not read the Sailing Instructions very carefully and followed Vento Di Sardegna inside the Eddystone Lighthouse. When it dawned on them, the guilty, one-by-one turned back to leave the Eddystone to starboard.
The junk rigged Sunbird 32 put into the River Yealm to avoid tacking towards the Lizard in a wind for which it is not suited. This enabled skipper Jonathan Snodgrass to get a good night’s sleep.
David Southwood, OSTAR Race Director: "I wouldn't be surprised if one or two have a difficult night and it might make them wonder if they are ready for a crossing of the Atlantic. For most of these boats, the winds are perfectly manageable going through the rest of the week.The excitement mounts and they get carried away – that's why there was a collision but I don't believe it will have been too serious.
They will get out past the Eddystone lighthouse and then head off towards The Lizard. It will be lively, but once they get a few days in the weather will be calming down again."
So as we enter the second day the fleet has been rejoined by Cabrio 2 and is following Roger Langevin in his Muti 50 Branec 4 out into the Atlantic. It has been an interesting first 24 hours.