No OSTAR? No problem! Corinthian sailors set up their own transat

After this year’s OSTAR race was postponed, a group of Corinthian skippers completed their own ‘NOSTAR’ transatlantic challenge

Punta Ala, Italy, November 2020
Guido Cantini Golden Globe Race 2022 entrant.
Guido Cantini aboard Hannah of Cowes the Vancouver 34 with which he will participate in the Golden Globe Race 2022.
© Guido Cantini/Hannah Racing

Following the postponement of this year’s OSTAR and TwoSTAR transatlantic races to 2022, a small group of determined solo and double-handed skippers set off on their own challenge, the NOSTAR transatlantic.

The transat was initiated by Charlene Howard, who had entered the 2021 TwoSTAR race on her Sun Odyssey 45.2 AJ Wanderlust with co-skipper Bobby Drummond. When it became evident that the official races organised by the Royal Western YC were likely to be postponed for another year, Howard and a small group of other entries decided to cross together. She was joined by Scottish single-hander Jock Hamilton on his 32-footer Freya, Ertan Beskardes on his Rustler 36 Lazy Otter, and Guido Cantini on his Vancouver 34 Hannah of Cowes, the latter two having entered as part of their preparation for the Golden Globe Race.

“We all left together, on the exact day and time that OSTAR/TwoSTAR was supposed to leave,” Howard explained. “We were able to get the sailing instructions from the 2017 race just to confirm the course, which is very simple: you leave Plymouth breakwater, leave Eddystone light to starboard and then finish at Castle Hill, Newport 3,000 miles later.”

The ‘NOSTAR’ set off from Plymouth to follow the original OSTAR/TwoSTAR course to Newport, USA

A tough transatlantic

As is frequently the case for the official OSTAR, the NOSTAR transatlantic fleet faced a tough crossing. “When we left it was blowing quite hard. The decision we made off the south-west coast of Ireland was I didn’t want to go straight into big seas.

“The unintended impact of that was we got caught in the middle of a secondary low that was not showing on any of the charts, which forced us to go north because it was where we could make the best headway,” explains Howard.

“That helped our race a lot because we ended up skirting above the low pressure systems and getting some tailwinds, whereas the other guys decided to go a more rhumbline route and I think they encountered worse sea state because of that.

“We actually had quite a nice crossing for the first 10 days or so because we were above the low pressure systems. We went as high as 56N so, then we had to climb back down and went through five days of near-gales and quite heavy seas.”

Howard and her co-skipper Bobby Drummund

Onboard AJ Wanderlust they suffered a broken inner forestay, ripped mainsail and a destroyed wind generator, but were able to continue into Newport, arriving after 31 days.

Meanwhile, Jock Hamilton was dismasted. “Jock got about halfway across the track when he dismasted, and then showed very good seamanship and jury rigging [to sail back to] Scotland,” explains Howard, “Ertan on Lazy Otter had three knockdowns in one night and lost their self steering gear, so they went to the Azores to get sorted out.

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