Summer Storm Batters OSTAR
Sail|August 2017
Summer Storm Batters OSTAR

Fleet is decimated by hurricane conditions

Paul Gelder

A number of competitors had to be rescued this past June when a powerful summer storm struck the 15th edition of the OSTAR, from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island, lashing the 15-boat fleet with 60-knot winds and 50 ft waves.

The Two Star, a double handed trans at race running simultaneously under the flag of the Royal Western Yacht Club, also fell victim, with at least one boat sunk and two more having to be scuttled.

At press time, only five single handed sailors had finished or remained in the OSTAR. Similarly, only two boats out of the original fleet of six managed to avoid dropping out of the Two Star.

Among those falling victim to the storm was solo American sailor Kass Schmidt aboard the 36ftZest, a Rob Humphreys custom design, who was forced to retire due to damage to her wind vane and other technical problems.

Less fortunate was 73-year-old British sailor Mervyn Wheatley, who was rescued by the luxury liner Queen Mary 2 after he was forced to abandon his Formosa 42, Tamarind, following a knockdown that caused severe damage, smashing in a porthole and flooding his yacht.

Wheatley, who was taking part in his fifth OSTAR and 19th Atlantic crossing, set out from Plymouth in late May to the loud strains of “Colonel Bogey,” the rousing marching song from the film Bridge over the River Kwai.

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August 2017