Andrea Mura, aboard Vento di Sardenga, was the first racer to finish this year's RWYC's Ostar/Twostar race. His elapsed time was 17 days, 4 hours, 6 minutes, and 19 seconds to complete his screech across the pond. Nearly five sailboats were unable to finish this harrowing race, due to a "perfect storm" hitting the rest of the fleet harder than it hit him. Mura sailed into the eye of the storm, where the waves were only 30 feet high versus the nearly 50-foot seas that hit the other contestants later on. Subsequently he was whipped out of the storm with an even greater lead over the other courageous sailors. Winds gusting up to 50 knots made his solo sail somewhat dicey at times.
An experienced race coordinator said that it was the most severe atmospheric depression that he had ever witnessed over the North Atlantic.
One skipper, Mervyn Wheatley, was rescued from his heavily damaged boat by the Queen Mary 2, while another sailor was taken aboard an ocean going tug heading to St.Johns, Newfoundland. At least one boat sank, and a couple of others were scuttled. Lastly, an oil rig supply vessel en route from Scotland to Mexico came to the relief of one more exhausted sailor.
Several boats had to turn back to the starting line in Plymouth, England, and another damaged boat headed southeast to the Azores for repairs .
Mura won the quadrennially run Ostar(Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race) in 2013, and earlier he won the TwoStar, which is the same Plymouth to Newport race, except that two individuals crew each boat.
The captain recounted today that during the worst part of the storm, the hurricane force winds and the towering waves were causing his boat to leap around so much that he couldn't get out on deck to reduce sail, or he would have become airborne! even If he had tried to drop the main sail, it would have been blown back up the severely swinging mast.
Prior to racing across the Gulf of Maine at more than ten knots, he had to stop briefly in a sheltered Nova Scotian cove to make rapid repairs to Vento's articulating keel.
It was nearly high noon when Mura and his speedy Vento di Sardegna swept into Newport's inner harbor
To the blasting of vessels' air horns and cheers from the harbor facing balconies and nearby decks. Presently he is tied up at the Newport Yacht Club.
This race was truly a heroic feat ,against all odds, that will go down in the annals of yacht racing as one of the most memorable ones ever. Unbelievably, everyone of the endangered sailors was saved, thanks to the quick responses by the Canadian air and sea rescue teams, the Azorean Air Force, a couple of fast thinking and well-trained commercial vessels, and even a world famous cruise.