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13 April 2007, 11:13 am
Gusto Takes Lead - Closing In On Equator
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Melbourne Osaka Cup 2007
Melbourne, Australia

In a sked update with Race Director Kevin WILSON a short time ago, Gusto, co-skippered by Victorians Patrick GIUDICE and Brian PATTINSON (AUS) has taken the lead in the Melbourne Osaka double handed yacht race and is expected to cross the equator this evening.
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Gusto is in the Pacific Ocean, south of the Saint Matthias Group of islands and sailing fast, her course well east of the fleet paying big dividends. Behind her, Japanese entry Cocorin interland is at the northern end of New Ireland, now having to do some chasing, rather than be chased.

Black Friday In The Doldrums!

Conditions most sailors dread have hit the fleet and only Rosie COLAHAN (AUS) on Ingenue has made mention of those two words 'The Doldrums' publicly when describing their last couple of days.

COCORIN interland's Itaru MATSUNAGA (JPN) and John BANKART (AUS) soldier on, doing all they can to stay at the front of the race. 'No wind. The boat circles unless we hand-steer, which makes the watch quite hard, not using autopilot,' MATSUNAGA remarked.

'We have an island ahead that we saw yesterday. Even under these circumstances, John and me get along well!'

COCORIN is positioned to the east of the Tabar Islands, located 24 km northwards from the central coast of New Ireland and 51 km northeast from the Lihir island group, still some miles from the Equator, but at least past the halfway mark.

The Tabar island group forms part of the Bismarck Archipelago, consisting of a short chain of three main islands, Tabar in the south, Tatau in the centre, and Simberi in the north and includes a number of smaller offshore islets.

All's Well On Gusto

Gusto's co-skipper Brian PATTINSON (AUS) reported on yesterday, 'Busy day. The storms were back to chase us. I gained some extra miles from hooking onto the side of the storm area and going with it and there were always good winds, but sometimes they sucked me in and ran over me.

'It is a handful with a full main and No 1. headsail. We always reef down at night, because it's so dark you can't see where they are coming from.

'Couldn't get the main down Wednesday night, one of the batten cars had twisted and some of the roller balls came out and jammed the car in the track yesterday morning. It took one and a half hours to get it down using the cunningham onto the reefing points and luff cars. Lucky there was no wind .That's my job in this morning - replacing the car.

'Everything else is excellent, Gusto is loving this. We are having a ball.'

Despite their two day unscheduled stopover in Bundaberg on 3-4 April, Melbourne's father and son, Jock and Hamish MACADIE (AUS), have sailed their Jones/Hart 14 m Alex into third place on the race track.

As Tamagomalu skipper, Makoto HISAMATSU (JPN), displaced to fourth on line remarked, 'No wind at all. We saw Alex passing us and contacted them via VHF. They passed us with a BIG sail hoisted.' He and co-skipper Jimmi DOHERTY (AUS) would be gritting their teeth, now 23 nm behind Alex.

Tamagomalu, Dekadence, Asadori and Ingenue have all narrowed the gap on the leader this morning, but Hullabaloo, in taking a more westerly course lost five more miles.

About The Race

Staged every four years, the Organising Authority for the Melbourne-Osaka Yacht Race is made up of City of Osaka Promotional Council, Osaka Hokko Yacht Club, Japan Sailing Federation - Offshore Naikai, City of Melbourne, Sandringham Yacht Club and in association with Yachting Australia.

The event was first held in 1987 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Osaka and celebrates the sister city relationship between Melbourne and Osaka.

Di Pearson (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Gusto have moved into the lead:© Teri Dodds
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