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12 February 2005, 08:54 am
Sydney Gears Up For Dramatic Race Arrivals
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Global Challenge

Sydney's gearing up for a spectacular finish to Leg 3 with the shore team putting the finishing touches together for all the razzmatazz and celebrations now synonymous with the race.
First in could be BG SPIRIT who have stormed into the lead, headed by Aussie skipper Andy FORBES, obviously desperate to get home!

This afternoon friends and families of the crew got together for a special welcome party organised to get them together for a chat and to share information about the race and their teams. The afternoon was a real success with everyone talking about a dramatic conclusion to a phenomenal leg.

With the race still open for any of the yachts to win the banter was light and humorous, with even a few bets being placed about the winning yachts!

So where will the yachts be moored and, for those of you following from afar, what's happening 'Down Under'?

Your roving reporter had a walk around Darling Harbour and sets the scene:

'The yachts will all be berthed on the VIP pontoon outside the Australian Maritime Museum,' Rachel Anning explains. 'Darling Harbour is a fantastic place. It's got its own monorail system, allowing people to get a bird's eye view of the Harbour; there are water taxis; exuberant yachts and boats and, for the more adventurous, the Harbour jet - ideal for tourists who may have limited sight seeing time but are desperate to see the sights quickly (at 40 knots!).

'There are street entertainers here and people lazing in the sun and taking in the atmosphere, which will go into absolute overdrive tomorrow! Looking up at the skyscrapers, there are huge corporate brands rising out of the city, including Veritas, KPMG and Samsung - all of which are either involved in the race now or have been in the past.

'There's so much for the yacht crews to do once they're here but just preparing for them is incredibly exciting. I've been talking to quite a few people here, just wondering around, and they're all really geared up for a race that will finish so close into the Harbour.'

As you know the yachts are currently charging towards the Heads, which will mark their turning point into Sydney Harbour and the final pelt home. From the Heads the yachts will have about 1 final hour of racing before they reach the finish line at the Sydney Opera House.

The Harbour is dotted with vantage points for spectators but will also present a final few hurdles for our gallant teams. The Traffic Separation Scheme operating in the Harbour will need to be adhered to plus the teams will have to be vigilant, with currents and wind shadows thrown off by the headlands, which jig zag across the whole of the Harbour racecourse. The possibility of grounding in places such as the Sow and Pigs, near the entrance to the Harbour, will also keep the teams on their toes on this final assault home.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is actually quite a way into the Harbour, which will make for some thrilling spectator action and will turn many heads in Australia's marine capital.

'These12 yachts, racing so tightly together, will be phenomenal,' continues Rachel. 'We've been reading about how close the racing has been up to now but people will actually be able to see it - phenomenal!

'Once the yachts reach the Sydney Opera House, and that all important finish line, then there's still a good hour before they will be able to crack open the beers in Darling Harbour. But what a fabulous last hour for them! Crossing the finish line at the Sydney Opera House will be an incredible achievement for the crews and an incredibly unique way to see this world famous landmark.

'From there the teams will be meandering their way through the Harbour against the backdrop of skyscrapers and a myriad of bars, restaurants and shops. If they're lucky they'll even get to see a whale or a shark popping out of the water! I was told this morning that the city has a clean up policy - Clean Up Australia - where the whole community gets involved to clean up the harbour, a project founded by solo yachtsman, Ian KEIRNAN.

'Over the years the water in and around the Harbour has been cleaned up so much that an abundance of wildlife has come back into the Harbour, adding to the delight of this cosmopolitan city. I hope the winning team don't get too excited though and start throwing their crews in the water as they might get a bit of a shock!'

From the Opera House the teams will pass under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which many of the crew are planning to climb on their days off. From here they will sail down towards Goat Island and then through into Darling Harbour. They will be moored right outside the National Maritime Museum, which is opposite Australia's number 1 tourist attraction, the Sydney Maritime Museum.

'From here the beer will flow and the celebrations will begin,' Rachel concludes!
Rachel Anning
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