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13 June 2003, 10:18 am
KAZ Reaches Her Half Way Milestone
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O3 Project - Round Australia Challenge
Round Australia

Having passed the half way mark at 10:00 local time last night, 18 days 8 hours into her circumnavigation, the sailors with disABILITIES sloop KAZ has had a fast night.
David PESCUD reported from KAZ at 7.55am this morning, "the whole crew is excited about passing the half-way mark, we've put a lot of places behind us now, and still have a lot of places in front.

We are getting 3-36 knots of wind from the east-south-east, so we've just got our little heady up and no main, we're doing 8½ knots of boat speed, it's still dark, we're waiting for the sun to come up - just choofing along. We are expecting another 36 hours of this weather and we are trying to keep our boat speed in the 8-9 knot range - not slower, not faster.

We've just sailed through some oil rigs, it's fascinating, like skidding on a birthday cake - it's dark out here, and the lights of the rig look like candles, it's amazing. The sea is a little uncomfortable at the moment, and we're still offshore, heading in a south-westerly direction."

At 5am this morning, they were 186 nautical miles north-east of North West Cape, averaging 9 knots - well above the 6.2 knots needed to keep inside record pace.

Based on their average speed over the last 3319 miles, KAZ has a new ETA of 29 June, a full eight days inside Magna Data's 1999 record.

Jeremy Pearce, who with Kanga Birtles broke the Around Australia speed record in the time of 43 days 19hrs 29min 55sec in 1999, has been avidly watching the sailors with disABILITIES own attempt as they close in on the half way mark.

The Sydney based sailor was 32 years old when he achieved the record and said today, "the KAZ guys have already won irrespective of whether they break the record or not. They're setting an enviable example for everyone - and have my full support and best wishes for a safe and successful record attempt."

Speaking of reaching the half way mark, Pearce said, "how did we feel at the halfway mark? Well - happy to be there. Our first goal was to finish - as we knew that would also give us the record. Having said that, we had our fair share of frustrations with Mother Nature - that's all part of the journey - easy in hindsight - tough at the time. We were behind our projected time and therefore a little frustrated - but happy to be out there and the fickle part behind us (so we thought).

The half way mark also saw us in some pretty horrible weather and a near miss capsize - we knew we were alive! Also in the back of our minds was the prospect of a southern ocean sleigh ride once we got around the bottom corner - to the eagerly awaited westerlies.

The westerlies as it turned out, were much longer coming than hoped (we had to sail around a large high) and then very short lived - we actually battled easterlies most of the way across the bottom - I can assure you westerlies are preferable!! From the bottom of Tassie back to Sydney was fantastic sailing for us and very fast - I think we broke the 'Kialoa' Sydney to Hobart record in reverse (pre 1999).

"Sailing around Australia is a great adventure and a very interesting course. There is a little bit of everything and its constantly changing - we certainly had a great time. I am sure the guys out there now are loving the challenge too.

The guys on KAZ have every chance of breaking the record. If the weather permits, and they can keep the boat in one piece and travel the rhumb line, I am sure they will prevail. I only have the highest respect for them and their endeavour. I wish them well and trust they will have a safe and victorious return,' Pearce said today.

Weather conditions for KAZ owner/skipper, David PESCUD, a severe dyslexia suffer, and his crew of six disabled sailors continues to look favourable, with winds expected from east-south-east increasing to 20/30 knots tonight, which will make for a fast passage down the West coast.
Di Pearson
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