OSTAR RACE 1972

polnnzIn 1968 I proposed to the Polish Yachting Association that they send a sailor to participate in The Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR 1972) and I also put my candidature forward to take part in this event. There were another 15 captains, including one women, who also wanted to represent the PYA in this race. Having competed for half a year during which we had to prove our health, stamina and sailing abilities I won the place.

 For the purpose of this race a 14- metre long ketch “Polonez” with a sail area of 80 square metres was built. For the first season I trained on the Baltic Sea, mainly by taking part in all the available regattas. In 1972, just before the OSTAR I competed in the Tall Ship Race (STA) from Gosport to Cherbourg, as another training exercise. I won this regatta. Unfortunately, I was disqualified as, according to the rules; half of the crew members were supposed to be under 25. Therefore, sailing alone when over thirty did not comply. For many years this story circulated as an anecdote. The rest of the crews, let’s say the crews that did not win, were against this verdict and bought me a drink while the chairman of the Sail Training Association nadirgave me a gift- an STA tie.

The single-handed transatlantic race was an unbelievable experience. Among the other competitors were such figures as Francis Chichester, Alain Colas and Jean Yves Terlain. Crossing the Atlantic, mainly into a headwind, took me 30 days. I was 12th over the finishing line, and even the fact that the 40th competitor took twice as long as I did did not console me. The winner, Alan Colas on his trimaran “Pen Duick IV” was 10 days faster than I. For Francis Chichester this was his last race as he was taken to hospital straight from his yacht in the middle of the Atlantic. My impressions from the race are depicted in the book “Wyscig do Newport”.

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