The start of the quadrennial Tasaki Osaka double handed race from Melbourne (AUS) to Osaka (JPN) got underway amid drama and amazement yesterday as the fleet set off on their epic 5,500 mile journey.
Crowds on Portsea Pier and the sailors on the large fleet of spectator boats were agog as pre-race favourite, the bright yellow 5.2 metre Funnel Web ran aground on the edge of the narrow channel some 10 minutes before the start.
It was 35 minutes after the gun before they managed to free themselves and cross the line.
Under clear skies and a 5-8 knot south easterly Maverick II led the double handed fleet around the yellow buoy some 1.5 miles inside the Port Phillip Heads and out into the southern ocean for the 5,000 mile race to Osaka in Japan.
She was followed by Kontrol with the fleet having already spread in the 9 miles to the heads. Vince Lamont's Spirit of Down Under, did not start. It is possibly out of the race, with suggestions this morning that it had some safety issues.#
A high-pressure system south of Victoria is currently providing very light conditions for the Melbourne to Osaka fleet. At 7am this morning the wind atop Wilson's Promontory was struggling to reach 3 knots.
At 7am The New Zealand entry Brian Petersen's Maverick II was eading the race and Open Racing Division B; she was 28 miles ENE of the Promontory, two miles ahead of Kontrol.
Beyond Outrageous was leading Racer C and is third overall, 17 miles behind.
She was four miles ahead of Team FGI, Funnel Web, Plantronics Duo Pro, Matrix and Mad Max. This group is locked in a light wind battle, sailing in and out of wind holes together.
No Fearr has swung south looking for more breeze
The Japanese entry Saluka, Guy Bernardin's Wild O and Vince Lamond's Spirit of Downunder are yet to start having a mixture of equipment issues. Under the Sailing instructions they have almost a week to commence the race and with current weather conditions the fleet will not be too far ahead of them.
Satellite tracking data and race position charts are being regularly updated at the event website below.