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4 November 2001, 09:00 am
Great America II Diverted By Strong Winds
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America To Australia Record

Great American II chasing the Sailing record from America to Australia hits storms
Pursued by the ghost of the clipper ship Mandarin, the Melbourne-bound trimaran Great American II was southeast of the Cape of Good Hope and heading for Melbourne, Australia today as she continued her assault on the sailing record from New York City.

The 53-foot trimaran carrying Rich Wilson from Rockport, Massachusetts and his co-skipper Bill Biewenga, from Newport, Rhode Island had lost ground to the Mandarin, the American clipper that set the 69-day passage record while carrying prospectors to the Australian Gold Rush in the winter of 1855-56.

Storm conditions south of the Cape of Good Hope earlier in the week forced the two adventurers off their easterly course and for a time they sailed due North, at right angles to their intended path, running before heavy winds and 12 to 18-foot seas to avoid the worst of the weather. In the process they conceded almost 200 hard-won miles and almost a day of sailing time. Today they were 780 miles ahead of Mandarin's comparable position.

Wilson reported his vessel's position as 43 degrees 10 minutes south, 34 degrees 51 minutes east. Sailing on course, in moderate conditions 900 miles southeast of Cape Town, Great American II had entered the Indian Ocean, with 4671 miles remaining to Melbourne.

The attempt to break Mandarin's record is the latest education adventure program undertaken by Wilson's Boston-based sitesALIVE! web site at

Using satellite communications, Wilson and Biewenga share their daily experiences with schoolchildren who link to an accredited curriculum delivered on the Internet to classrooms throughout the United States and Australia.

Yesterday, Commanders' Weather, the forecasting and routing service in Nashua, New Hampshire, warned the two sailors to expect more storm conditions on Sunday night and Monday with big waves and winds as strong as 30 to 40 knots at times.

To beat Mandarin's record, Great American must arrive in Melbourne before November 27.
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