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16 December 2002, 01:34 pm
Merit Will Aim to Smash Another Record
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Coral Sea Classic 2003

Since breaking the Gosford-Lord Howe Island Race recently, Ian and Andrea Treleaven have set themselves up for a busy 'summer of sail,' which will include having a crack at the Coral Sea Classic race record.
On Boxing Day, along with 56 other entrants, Merit, a Volvo 60, will race in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, competing for a line honours win. She will follow that up with the Navigator Dash from Devonport in Tasmania to the finish at Melbourne's Station Pier. Entrants will have a window of time; 3-15 January, to make the crossing in their fastest time.

Following on from that, Treleaven will head for Cairns aiming to break the 10 year old race record set by Decimator of 43 hours 36 minutes in the Cairns to Port Moresby leg of the Coral Sea Classic Series. The feature race of the seven race Coral Sea Classic series, it is a 450 nautical mile tradewind run from Cairns in Australia to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. In the 2003 series A$20,000 in prizes will be awarded for speed records in this downhill dash.

Treleaven will co-skipper Merit in a charter arrangement for this event, after a phone call from expat. Aussies, Carol Turnbull and Paul Roberts, who are living in Papua New Guinea. The pair decided to have a crack at the race record, and were so impressed with Merit's Lord Howe time (shaving nearly seven hours from the record), they organised a charter with Treleaven, who, along with three of his regular crew, will join them in their attempt.

Turnbull, who has lived and worked in PNG for the past 12 years, is no novice sailor. A regular competitor in local yacht racing at Port Moresby, she has competed in a number of Australian races and regattas. With her Farr 40, 'Hi Flyer', she was a retiree of the 1998 Sydney Hobart - 'great choice of year for a first Sydney Hobart!' she says, but came back and took part again the following year.

She has also competed in the Phuket Kings Cup Regatta, Brisbane-Gladstone, Mooloolaba-Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach Race Week and Far North Queensland events when the boat was based in Cairns.

A qualified chartered accountant, Turnbull, who originally went to PNG (which she calls 'Land of the Unexpected') for three years, said that living in PNG and having a boat based in Far Northern Queensland was not an ideal scenario, so the boat was sold last year.

Now boatless, she and her partner, Paul Roberts (aka Captain Ron), have the loan of an Adams 10 in Port Moresby, so still race regularly. They have also done many crossings of the Coral Sea (around 17 to-date), racing and delivering yachts.

Formerly from Airlie Beach, Roberts, who now calls Port Moresby home, has a long history of sailing, including the 50th Sydney-Hobart on Hammer of Queensland and Hamilton Island Race Week aboard Brindabella.

While they are yet to finalise their part of the crew list, it will comprise expat residents who race together on the Adams 10 in Port Moresby. All have competed in previous Coral Sea Classics and needed the added challenge of a race record for the 2003 event. Turnbull says that Merit is more than capable of smashing the ten-year-old record, which is why they chartered her. She urges other big boat owners to come and 'have a go', in what she describes as 'a fabulous race.'

Race Director, Peter Renner, said, "with the entry of 'Merit', the 10 year old race record is likely to be bettered. If the anticipated South East trades eventuate, she is more than capable of logging the 11 knot average required to break 'Decimators' 1993 record."

"However as in all yacht races, it is the wind gods who have the final say. Many a yacht in previous years has had the record in their grasp, only to park for the night tantalizingly close to the Port Moresby finish line," he added.
Di Pearson - Sail-World.com
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