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6 June 2005, 10:21 am
Harsh Conditions Continue
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Faraday Mill OSTAR 2005

The skippers who left Plymouth Sound, bound for Newport, just one week ago have, in the true spirit of the single handed transatlantic race been sorted, and aborted in their droves by the harsh and undiscriminating conditions that has long made this passage the true testing ground for any 'wannabe' oceanic sailor.
Of the 34 bold and brave who departed The Sound in what was, for the spectators at least, near perfect conditions; only 21 remain at the helm pointing their bows towards America. The first seven days have been an extraordinary mixture of mishaps aboard from the ultimate disaster for a sailing boat, dismasting; to a bad back with everything in between.

The Open 40 fleet has been an extraordinary tale of disappointments in what should be one of the most fascinating races to watch. As is so often the case now with out and out race boats they have dropped off the chart with an alarming regularity which, only leaves the spectator dumbfounded as to why these boats are so fickle.

The experienced Patrice CARPENTIER in the new class 40 footer has managed to stay alive, not though, through any cautious moves. Patrice was one of the earliest to head north in an attempt to take advantage of the first of the long awaited approaching weather systems but, it has paid off. Hannah WHITE, the youngest and least experienced, stayed in contention until an auto-helm problem that had been plaguing her for several days finally forced her to make the hardest skipper decision, retirement. Robosail, Roaring Forty, Destination Calais and La Promesse have all followed suit.

In the multihull class the competition has been slightly more rewarding in that over half the boats which rounded the Eddystone Light are still racing, even though they are worlds apart in status. Roger LANGEVIN who never achieved his potential in his mono-hull entries in the past is leading the pack with his new acquisition Branec IV. And, the first boat round the Eddystone, also a favourite in port due to her liberal European sponsors, she became affectionately known as the 'underwear boat', Cotonella and Franco MANZOLI are out with the leaders and, if they continue in the same vein, could possibly be in with a chance of line honours. Ross HOBSON's early retirement was followed by Anne CASENEUVE's knee injury and Etienne GIROIRE has main halyard problems.

What has been a delight to watch though is the good, the old, and the very occasional young, Corinthian sailors. They, with their usual panache are slowly, but steadily, inching their way towards the 'new world shores. Apart from that is, one very sad retirement, Peter CROWTHER.

Peter, a veteran of seven previous OSTARs, has unfortunately had to return to the safety afford by the Cornish coast due to a forestay breaking loose on his chartered Swan 38 Suomi Kudu. For the Corinthian Peter, and the aspiring professional Hannah alone with all the others retirees, who would no doubt have been relishing the chance to enjoy their tales in Newport, this week has been no less than a tragedy.

Their race and their hopes are over, finished quashed. Days, weeks, months of hard work and with them their aspirations dashed. But, for the remaining skippers their dream is still alive.

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