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14 March 2003, 10:16 am
Competitors Race to Prepare For Start
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Tasaki Osaka Cup

The 2003 Tasaki Osaka Cup kicks off on Saturday 15 March from Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne at 11am, with the race proper leaving Portsea pier on 16 March at 11am.
Once again, preparing for the start has become one of the grueling race's most daunting challenges.

The past week has seen competitors heading out into Bass Strait for overnight or one-day quick qualifying runs to gain the required miles to start the race, and rushing to complete last minute changes to their boats.

Philip Coombs, Vice-commodore of the Sandringham Yacht Club and skipper of the C Class racer No Fearr, has found the week to be enjoyable and exciting, but certainly hectic, citing the magic 'to do' list as an ever growing problem.

"It seems like you complete four items from your list, and magically another five will be added. My list is now longer than it was a week ago!" Philip said.

"The safety checks have been very stringent for everybody, and you know how much yachties love paperwork! But I think nearly everybody is getting their boats together now," he added.

When asked about how the costs were going with all the expense of safety material and the like, Philip reiterated what most of the competitors have been saying, that the competitors are in it for the race, and definitely not for financial gain.

"The budget for most competitors was blown long ago. It is now a matter of just starting the race so the fire hose of money can be turned off!" Philip said.

"But I can say on behalf of all of us that all we now want is to go sailing! Two more sleeps!" he added.

Tony Warren, skipper of Beyond Outrageous, agrees.

"Definitely, the hardest part of the race is getting to the start line. Just simple things like making the safety standard have been quite difficult," Tony said.

Tony, a veteran of two Osakas, is hoping to make every post a winner on his third attempt to win the world's longest longitudinal yacht race. Tony had to pull out in 1995 after sustaining serious damage off Papua New Guinea and finished third in his division in 1999.

In 2003, Tony has teamed up with sail maker Anthony Elliot. Anthony and Tony have done a lot of work on Beyond Outrageous, and are hoping to finish the race in 30 days.

But in the end, all competitors are in it for the love of the sport, according to Philip Coombs.

"Once we start, the only challenge will be getting to Osaka. Winning will be the result good preparation, skill level and just a bit of luck. If all goes well, we'll all finish and a place will be just a bonus on top of a life changing experience for all of us," Philip said.
Event Media/ISAF News Editor
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