In an effort to avoid confusion, Offshore Challenges, organisers of the 2004 singlehanded trans-ocean race has changed the event's name to Transat

In an effort to avoid confusion, Offshore Challenges, organisers of the 2004 singlehanded trans-ocean race has changed the event’s name to Transat.

Over 40 years ago, in part spurred on by a gentleman’s wager, Sir Francis Chichester, Blondie Haslar and three other skippers set out to race solo from Plymouth to New York. This course was widely described as impossible – against the prevailing winds and currents, and deep into the iceberg-ridden and stormy North Atlantic. Arriving in New York 40 days later, an exhausted Sir Francis Chichester made history and the first ever singlehanded trans-ocean race was born.

Four years later, the race was won by the enigmatic Frenchman Eric Tabarly, earning him the Legion d’Honneur, presented to him by de Gaulle. This was to kickstart France’s enduring love affair with sailing.

Mark Turner, CEO of Offshore Challenges Events commented: “In its 40-year history this race has retained some identity with the word ‘STAR’, but many forms of this have been used over the years. It has led to much confusion as the name has evolved in different ways from its original name, The OSTAR, to the last edition in 2000 as the Europe1 NewMan STAR with a number of variations in-between.

“We wanted to create a definitive name and as in France the race has been called the ‘La Transat Anglaise’, we have decided to simplify the issue by just calling it ‘The Transat’. It is the first-ever solo ocean race: the toughest, the fastest, the original. The event will always be the one that was established as the OSTAR in 1960, and we intend to continue to communicate that. Of course we hope to involve a title sponsor, but regardless this new name should move the event on from the string of different STAR names – which no-one was keen to continue after 2000’s Europe1 NewMan STAR.”

The key elements of the Notice of Race are as follows:

* The Transat will run four classes: IMOCA Open 60 monohulls, ORMA Open 60 multihulls, Class 2 Multihulls (48.1 foot to 50 foot) and Class 2 Monohulls (48.1 foot to 50 foot) * The Transat” is included in the race calendars of the ORMA Multihull Championship and the IMOCA Monohull Championship. In addition, points will count towards the FICO Lacoste World Championship for skippers and team sponsors * The Transat will start from Plymouth on 31 May 2004, a Bank Holiday in both the UK and France. The initial course will see the boats passing Eddystone Light to starboard before rounding a race mark off the Lizard to port – next stop, downtown Boston.

As an indication of the challenge facing the solo skippers, the race committee has reserved the right to add a ‘gate’ or other race mark if the pre-race iceberg reports pose a greater than normal threat to the fleet.

The Notice of Race for the The Transat 2004 has been issued to potential competitors and is available either as a download from the (under construction) website or through application direct to OCE ( The deadline for entries for the 2004 race is 31 January 2004.