Entries are open for the world’s only yacht race to traverse the Pacific Ocean non-stop from south to north by crews of two. The race is from Melbourne, Australia to Osaka, Japan.
The Melbourne/Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race, held every four years, is expected to again attract an international fleet to take on the 5500 nautical mile course.
Melbourne Lord Mayor John So urged the yachting community to start thinking about entering the March 2003 race, which has previously attracted competitors the likes of famed disabled sailor Vinnie Lauwers and 1995 winner Grant Warrington.
"The City of Melbourne is extremely pleased to be supporting this race, which is organised by our Japanese sister city Osaka," Mr So said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to use a challenging sporting event to bring people of different cultures together - both physically and in understanding."
Applicants have until September 2002 to enter, although a discounted entry fee will be offered to those who apply by March 2002. The fee is 50,000 yen (40,000 yen for early entries), which equates to $860 ($665 early entries) at current exchange rates.
For 2003, two new racing groups have been added to the traditional mono-hulled yachts of 10 to 16 metres. These are:
· Open racing, allowing yachts of up to 60 foot; and
· Cruising fleet, allowing boats to call at any port along the way.
Cr Irene Goonan, chair of the Melbourne organising committee for the race, said Melbourne would be working closely with the Sandringham Yacht Club, which is again hosting the race along with the Osaka Hokko Yacht Club in Japan / www.osakacup.com.
"We are planning a week of celebrations in Melbourne in the lead up to the start of the race on Saturday March 15, 2003," Cr Goonan said. "The celebrations will continue on the Mornington Peninsula when the yachts sail through Port Phillip Head the next day."
Cr Goonan said the race was being planned by the City of Osaka, with help from the City of Melbourne and the Melbourne Port Corporation, which has a sister port relationship with Osaka. She said the organising authority was the Melbourne/Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race Promotion Council in conjunction with the Japan Sailing Federation. The main sponsor is Tasaki Shinju Company, a Japanese pearl manufacturer and jeweller.
For further information potential competitors should contact Scott Eccleston at Sandringham Yacht Club on (03) 9598 7444 / www.osakacup.syc.com.au.