Competitors will arrive at Sandringham Yacht Club by 7 March for final safety checks by the race Committee, and then with their boats, will then relocate to Waterfront City, Melbourne Docklands on Friday 16 March to take part in the Melbourne Osaka Boat Week.
The Melbourne Osaka Boat Week will include a 'Come Try Sailing' weekend, school excursions hosted by lone around the world sailor Jesse Martin, fashion shows, an Osaka cultural festival, the Club Marine Sail Boat Show and a celebration concert and fireworks.
Event organizers, Leisurecorp, are currently talking with possible further race entrants from France, New Zealand, the USA and Australia.
Compass Rose III a Syunsaku Katogi Cutter sailed by Hisayuki MONDEN and Hiroshi HAYASHI, and Wild Boar an MDS102 sailed by Hiroshi HAYASHI and Hiroshi MORIMOTO, are two Japanese crews already entered in the race.
Of the Australian entries Queensland is well represented by father and son Ken and Lucas DOWN with their new Sayer 12m recently christened Wasabi, and new near sistership RYU-JIN- FGI, owned by Murray BUCKNALL and to be co-skippered by the yacht's designer John Sayer, who scored a divisional win with Team Fgi in the 2003 race.
Sydney entries include James MURCHISON with Abracadabra a Tripp 47, Endorfin, a new Sydney 47 owned by Peter MOONEY to be crewed by Henry 'Hank' PATTERSON and Hullabaloo, an Adams 13 entered by Yamba father and son Jim and Joe O'KEEFFE.
O'KEEFFE senior is a keen cattle breeder, cane farmer and builder who competed in the 1978 Solo Trans Tasman Race. His son Joe, an avid sailor, is a former winner of the North Coast Laser Regatta and a Queensland State Championship in the Laser class.
Another father and son team, Jock and Hamish MACADIE, head the Melbourne line up with their Jones/Hart 14m Alex, the 2003 Melbourne-Osaka second place getter then known as Kontrol and David TAIT and Peter TARDREW's Radford 64, The Wizard.
James RYSSENBEEK and Andrew MCCOLE have entered their Sayer 11, Runaway, formerly Team Fgi. RYSSENBEEK is from Victoria while COLE lives in Tamworth NSW, travelling to Melbourne on a regular basis to compete in local races in the lead up to the Cup.
'We're in the race because we're both very competitive individuals who thrive on challenge. Until December 2005 [pre Melbourne to Hobart] we'd never done an ocean race and never sailed two handed,' comments RYSSENBEEK from Brighton, adding, 'and of course, it will be bloody good fun!'
Both are 30 years of age, and as such, are the youngest combined entry ever for the Osaka Cup. In fact, their combined ages are less than half of all the current entries!
'To add icing, we live 1,400 km apart, so our Osaka Cup challenge is to pull this all together; something we feel we are well on track to achieving,' RYSSENBEEK says.
Tom CRABB and Trent JUSTICE have come up with the lone South Australian entry to date with their Adams 11.9 Southern Light. Neither has competed in the Cup before, but both have years of sailing experience.
'I expect we'll be doing lots of head scratching and we'll probably go through a few sets of luck dice,' says CRABB, 'But I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead and meeting more people in the same situation.'
Most of all, says CRABB, 'I am looking forward to getting to the finish and presenting a minimal list of 'things broken' to my understanding wife!'
'The Cup,' says co-skipper JUSTICE, 'is to test myself; and its something I have always wanted to do. I have built the yacht with Jon SAYER for this 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.