UK: HMS Somerset Plays Key Role in Transatlantic Yacht Race

HMS Somerset Plays Key Role in Transatlantic Yacht Race

Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset acted as the prestigious starting platform for a tough single-handed transatlantic yacht race setting off from the south coast on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Devonport-based frigate took time out from her current period of Operational Sea Training to embark Race Officials, accompanied by 50 guests from the Royal Western Yacht Club, who organise the race, along with the Official Starter, Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson DSC.

The twenty boats and skippers of the 14th OSTAR sailing race set off from Plymouth heading for Newport, Rhode Island, as soon as HMS Somerset signalled the start of the challenging race using her 3lb Saluting Gun.

 Lieutenant Christopher Owen, the Ship’s Race Liaison Officer, and an accomplished sailor himself, said: “It is superb for HMS Somerset to play such a key role in this amazing event.”

Adding: “But for me sailing with a crew is more enjoyable, just like serving aboard a warship.”

The deck of HMS Somerset offered an unparalleled vantage point for guests and the ship’s company to view the start of this four-yearly race, which was first competed for in 1960. The mixed field of amateur and professional sailors are expected to reach American shores, after 2,700 miles alone at sea, around the end of June.

 One of the race competitors, a retired Royal Marine, Mervyn Wheatley (69) said: “This race has many challenges, getting to Newport is the main one!”

Adding: “I have a glass of sherry with peanuts every evening and, quite often, a glass of merlot with my freeze dried meal.”

Once the race was underway, HMS Somerset quickly returned to the rigours of sea training, preparing for operational tasking later in the year.

Press Release, May 28, 2013; Image: Royal Navy