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4 April 2003, 12:13 pm
Half the Fleet Over the Equator
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Tasaki Osaka Cup
Melbourne - Osaka

Tropical storms and little breeze continue to be the daily fare for the 2003 Melbourne to Osaka fleet as they pass the half way mark in this epic 5,000 mile race.
Race leader Maverick II is now 393 miles south of West Fayu Atoll with 2000 miles of sailing to reach Osaka. Her ETA is now April 16. Four days outside the race record set by Wild Thing in 1995

Peter and Simon Blake aboard Kontrol have seen their chances of taking line honours ebb away over the last 24 hours, as Maverick II edges towards the trades. Kontrol is now 200 miles behind the leader, 284 miles north of Lihir Island.

Racer C Leader Team FGI, and Racer Class B leader Lulu are together 30 miles behind with 2260 miles to Osaka

Club Marine Wizard, the standout cruiser in this 2003 fleet is 23 miles having crossed the Equator this morning, as did Plantronics Duo Pro and X-Dream

As Californian sailor Steen Moller reported today from X-Dream, heavy tropical storms continue each evening. Last night they had gusts of 35-45 knots

Matrix sailing on her own 65 miles north of Lihir Island is in similar weather.

Beyond Outrageous and TMQ Marine escaped the lulls off the Bougainville Coast that trapped Funnel Web and Louise, who are only now clearing the big island.

As Sibby Mcfayden on Funnel Web detailed this afternoon, they too have seen the tropical storms.

'We have had some incredible storms too over the last few days. Usually they are just afternoon rainstorms and one can almost set the clock for them to arrive. Last night however was different. I was steering and I was getting some good distance out of little wind. I was very pleased with my 7 knot average speed. Suddenly it hit; the biggest storm I had seen for a long time. What was so weird about it was the fog and humidity and the fact that it seemed to come from all directions.'

Phil Hogg aboard Fine Tolerance, trying the short cut between New Britain and New Guinea up through the Bismarck Sea has stalled south of the Trobiand Islands in similar conditions.

No Fearr, retired after breaking her boom has reached the outer edge of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, enroute to Townsville.
Rob Kothe/
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