09 May 2021

The Royal Western Yacht Club of England will run its major transatlantic races, the Original Single-handed Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and the Two-handed Transatlantic Race (TWOSTAR), again in 2021.

The MailASail 2021 OSTAR TWOSTAR race has been rescheduled from 2020 due to the COVID 19 outbreak.  However the Royal Western Yacht Club of England will continue to celebrate its 60th anniversary – a major milestone not to be missed. Both single handed and double handed racers will sail again under one race management control but be scored separately.

The Creation of the OSTAR

In 1956 Blondie Hasler became interested in the challenges of offshore singlehanded sailing – “one man, one boat, the ocean…”. Over the next few years he conceived of a transatlantic race against the prevailing winds and currents whose purpose was to develop the necessary seamanship, equipment and techniques.

He had interested several competitors, but was unable to find an organiser or sponsor willing to move from the familiar full-crewed or ‘cruise in company’ racing to such a dangerous sounding innovation. His press release of November 1959 proclaimed “Described by one experienced yachtsman as ‘the most sporting event of the century’ a transatlantic race for single-handed sailing boats will start from the south coast of England on Saturday 11 June 1960 and will finish off Sheepshead Bay, in the approaches to New York, at least a month later”.

Blondie and Francis Chichester agreed that should no sponsor be found they would go ahead with the race anyway and each competitor would wager half-a-crown; winner take all. But Blondie persevered and, with Francis, approached the RWYC and got a positive response from the Rear Commodore Jack Odling-Smee.

With a yacht club of repute to take on the organisation of the race, Blondie obtained the sponsorship of The Observer newspaper and so the RWYC Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race for the Observer Trophy, or OSTAR, came about.

With sponsor and organiser in place, the half crown wager was no longer required but its proposal was recognised later when the Half Crown Club was created to honour the intrepid sailors who have competed in an OSTAR.

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