Over 30 competitors cross the start line in Plymouth en route to Rhode Island

More than 30 competitors left Plymouth yesterday afternoon (25 May) at the start of the OSTAR 2009. The 2,800 mile Atlantic crossing – the world’s oldest solo ocean challenge – will finish in Newport, Rhode Island (USA).

Crowds gathered to see HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (pictured) start the race from aboard the Trinity House vessel, Galatea. He was joined by Mike Golding, Dee Caffari and Val Howells (competitor in the first OSTAR in 1960).

After months of preparation the skippers – ranging from 18 years to 68 – will now face prevailing winds, an adverse Gulf Stream, icebergs (south of the Sea of Labrador) and dense fog as they battle to reach their destination.

Trackers have been fitted on each boat and their progress can be seen via the OSTAR 2009 race website – www.ostar2009.com . Regular news updates and weather forecasts will also be available.

David Southwood, Race Director, commented: “It was a great honour to have our Patron HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, starting the race. A huge crowd was out in Plymouth to enjoy the sunshine and show their support for the competitors. The OSTAR is one of the most exciting events in the yachting calendar and the Royal Western Yacht Club has worked hard to maintain its Corinthian roots. We now wish the competitors the best of luck in their crossing and we look forward to greeting them on the other side of the Atlantic.”