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25 March 2002, 10:53 am
Fresh Southerlies Give Fleet a Boost
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Sydney to Mooloolaba Yacht Race

A fresh early morning south-westerly land breeze, followed by a spanking south-easterly seabreeze has given a belated boost in boat speed to yachts in the 2002 Forrester Properties Sydney to Mooloolaba ocean race.

Nevertheless, the leading yacht, Grundig, is not expected to cross the finish line off Alexandra Headland on the Queensland Sunshine Coast until between 2100 hours and 2200 hours tonight (9pm and 10pm) race time - between 8pm and 9pm Queensland time.

Unfortunately, the welcome wind increase, has come too late for several yachts which have withdrawn because of time constraints by crew members, with Akubra, Crossing, Silent Night and Sledgehammer all retiring today from the 33-boat fleet.

Grundig, the radical, skiff-like 66-footer skippered by Sydney yachtsman Sean Langman, has been in scintillating form today since getting an early morning break on the 83-footer Australian Skandia Wild Thing, skippered by Grant Wharington from Victoria's Mornington Yacht Club.

At the 1605 hours (4.05pm) position report ("sked") with the fleet, Grundig reported her position as 18 nautical miles south of Cape Moreton and 48 miles from the finish.

Extended and optimised by designers Murray, Burns and Dovell, Grundig (ex Xena) gained her major break early today when she sailed outside the Solitary Islands north of Coffs Harbour whilst Wild Thing went inshore, and ran out of breeze.

Since then Grundig has picked up the south-westerly land breeze, sweeping past Cape Byron just after 0700 hours this morning, making 14 knots under her huge blue and white asymmetrical spinnaker.

The fresh south-easter has continued to benefit Grundig throughout the day, sailing 87 miles between the "skeds" and averaging 9.6 knots, which has lifted her overall boatspeed to 8.24 knots since the start on Saturday.

Australian Skandia Wild Thing, the line honours winner last year, has closed the gap during the day, but was still 10 miles astern of Grundig at this afternoon's "sked", giving a position 28 miles south of Cape Moreton, running north under spinnaker off the Queensland Gold Coast.

However, she seems unlikely to run down the smaller, but lighter Grundig over the final few hours to the finish.

Line 7, the former Volvo 60 now owned by Ian Treleaven, holds third place in the fleet, but she is a massive 39 miles astern of Grundig, with George Snow's 80-footer struggling in fourth place, a further seven miles astern.

The fleet stretches back to Smokey Cape, spread over more than 225 nautical miles, with Kickatinalong at the tailend of the fleet.
Peter Campbell/News Editor
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