Short cut to Osaka's Rob Kothe brings us up to date on the two handed race to Japan

Wednesday April 2nd 2003, Author: Rob Kothe/, Location: Transoceanic
In this 5,000-mile south north race from Portsea Pier, Melbourne to Osaka Japan, there is a buoy inside Port Phillip Bay that is a mark of the course. The fleet turns out of the heads east along the Australian coast and then sail in any direction towards Osaka. Some boats have swung wide around the Solomon Islands, most sail between New Ireland and Bougainville, but a few take the short cut.

Phil Hogg’s Fine Tolerance is this morning 112 miles south south west of Rossell Island, taking a short cut through the Louisiades. She is set to sail up between New Britain and the PNG mainland. Phil signaled this possibility a few days ago as he sat languishing behind boats he’d like to beat, in this epic adventure.

In the 1999 race two Japanese women sailors, Tomoko Terakawa and Tokulo Niwa followed this route west of New Britain aboard Lucky Lady V. This was the same route taken by Niwa and her late husband in the 1995 race.

This gamble could allow Fine Tolerance to catch up to the fleet if the weather cooperates and if it doesn’t, well it will be an interesting cruise anyway.

At the front of the fleet Maverick II is still driving north. She is now 85 miles NNE of Lihir Island. Brian Petersen and John Bankart will be looking at weather charts and calculating gybe angles. However after their long time stalled in the Doldrums and now being only 90 miles south of the Equator, they may be feeling that staying in any
breeze is better than changing course.

Peter and Simon Blake’s Kontrol has tiptoed around the New Ireland East Cape, but as they are sailing in soft conditions, she has almost been caught by the chasing pack.

Team FGI is now third overall 25 miles back, Lulu is 21 miles wider and Club Marine Wizard is closer to the coastal cliffs.

Planatronics Duo Pro is now north west of Bougainville with X-Dream. Matrix has broken well clear of the following group and is 101 miles south of New Ireland.

The two two-somes of TMW Marine and Beyond Outrageous and Funnel Web and Louise are two stepping south west of Bougainville this morning.

James Murchison and Jeff Thomas are resting aboard the Shirase, on route for Rabaul. They will fly from Rabaul to Port Moresby then home to Australia. James brother Doug
commented from Sydney this morning; "They came off the vessel with the clothes they were wearing and hopefully their passports."

Their vessel lies abandoned on the reefs near Rossel Island. The battery powered Argos tracking unit will continue to report until the vessel breaks up.

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