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27 September 2001, 07:47 pm
Sailing Adventurers Dodge Hurricane Humberto
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Record Attempt From New York to Melbourne
New York

A week after leaving New York harbour, sailing adventurers Rich Wilson and Bill Biewenga have covered 1035 nautical miles in their bid to set a sailing record from New York to Melbourne, Australia.
At noon today, their 53-foot trimaran Great American II had skirted the forecast path of Hurricane Humberto which was packing 135 mph winds at its centre. The two-man crew was sailing a southeasterly course away from the storm at five to seven knots.

"We're getting some of the ocean swells from Humberto, with six to eight foot swells rolling in, but not any of the wind associated with it," Wilson said in a message today. "It's a curious mix. Through the night, we were able to make some miles to the east, and also to the south, to diverge from the forecast path of Humberto."

Light winds over the past two days, and the need to avoid the hurricane, slowed Great American II as she strove to beat the sailing record to Melbourne, set 145 years ago by the American clipper ship Mandarin carrying fortune hunters to the Australian gold rush. This year, Australia is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold down under.

Great American II's early pace out of New York Harbour put her ahead of the ghost of Mandarin for the first two days but the weather conditions forced her east. Today, seven days into the voyage, the trimaran trails the clipper by 280 nautical miles.

Her position at 39 deg 01 min North, 51 deg 35 min West placed Great American II 1035 miles east of New York City and 752 miles northeast of Bermuda.

The attempt to break the 69-day record set in 1855-56 by Mandarin is the latest education adventure program from Wilson's Boston-based sites ALIVE! website. The program enables Wilson and Biewenga to share their experience with schoolchildren by linking to an accredited curriculum delivered on the Internet to classrooms throughout the United States and Australia.

The website tracking the voyage of Great American II is The Ocean Challenge voyage is one of 10 educational programs bringing real-life interactive learning experiences to school children through the World Wide Web.
Keith Taylor/News Editor
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