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3 April 2003, 10:11 am
Blasting Away
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Tasaki Osaka Cup
Melbourne - Osaka

Race leader Maverick II is skipping away again, taking advantage of some Equatorial storm cells. At 6am this morning she was 60 miles north of the Equator with an Osaka ETA of April 15th.

Tonight it is expected that the group of boats chasing her will be paying homage to Neptune.

Second placed Kontrol is 90 miles from the Equator, leading Team FGI by 40 miles. Club Marine Wizard is fourth, 16 miles back. Lulu is wider in fifth place only 2 miles further back. Behind her are Planatronics and X-Dream still sailing in sight of each other as dawn breaks over the Equatorial Solomon Sea.

Matrix rounded the New Ireland East Cape so close she could hear the surf. Beyond Outrageous is close on the Bougainville shore, edging close to coastal reefs, seven miles ahead of TMQ Marine. Louise and Funnel Web are sailing in company 30 miles further down the coast.

Boots is now 53 miles ENE of Laughlan Island and Salaku is now abeam of Laughlan Island having now sailed 2000 miles from Melbourne.

The entire fleet has been experiencing regular tropical storms and squalls as they sail north through the Solomon Sea. The Mad Max crew has told of a white-out occuring the night she hit the reef.

This morning Salaku's skipper Jun Kanda reported by satellite phone 'It's been over 3 months since we left the port of Nagasaki. It was a very long 3 months in some ways, very quick in other ways. We've been through so much experience that we just cannot put them all in to words. Tense sailing will continue for about another month until we reach Osaka. Last night, we passed through a small low, experiencing thunder/rain with winds gusting up to 30 knots at times.

It wasn't shown in the weather map we got through the radio, but we saw the clouds coming, and predicted that the weather will get rough. So, we put in 2 reefs in the mainsail and closed the hatches, etc. But since my crew Takeda was cooking our supper at the time, I tried not to make the boat heel too much, which lead to delay of lowering the jib furler. The work in stronger winds was tough; we ended up with tangled jib sheets & lifeline pins falling off. If you know the weather is getting rough, always prepare well ahead of time! '

Last night Sandringham Yacht Club Vice Commodore Phil Coombs has advised that No Fearr, having retired from the race with a broken boom is now en route to Townsville, rather than Brisbane.

Rob Kothe/ISAF Secretariat
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