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Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013 - Gusto challenged Bass Strait

by Robyn Brooke on 31 Mar 2013
Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013 - Gusto challenged the treacherous waters of Bass Strait Teri Dodds © http://www.teridodds.com
Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race 2013. Racing a 66ft surfboard two-up is an onerous undertaking even in good conditions. Brian Pattinson spoke to race organiser George Shaw today about what he describes are the toughest conditions he has ever sailed in.

A squall of 45 knots hit us at the Prom. We had the full main and number one headsail up at the time doing 22 knots and plowing off the waves with the bow digging in to what felt like a 45 degree angle. Water covered the deck and we battled to keep the helm under control and get her up into the wind.

We burst the lazy jacks while dropping that huge main which covered the deck and was a beast to secure. With the number three up went back on our course and were still doing 22 knots without plowing and no main.

The wind eased for a time and we had the number one back up but as the wind built again it was time to get it down. That’s when the tuff luff broke. The sail ended up overboard, all 200square feet of it and we had to cut it to get it back on board. That will be a repair job at a later date. Greg has been fantastic. He was being bashed around badly by that sail and those huge sheets but didn’t falter until it was safely back on board.

So here we are with no headsail gear – Easter holidays – but need to get it sorted. We know we can fix it in a couple of hours so the new foil is ordered and we are on route to Sydney town under main only, with a headwind!

He and Greg plan to repair the damage themselves to reduce race penalties and they hope to rejoin the race with only the loss of the travel time and a couple of hours work. Although they have hardly had any sleep over the past 24 hours, Brian added 'We are both in good spirits and the only way we won’t finish this race is if the boat disappears from under us'.

The rest of the fleet are busy assessing the damage caused by the persistent strong headwinds and adverse currents they have been battling since leaving Bass Strait. Finally a following wind has given the teams time to clean up and get some rest.

Kiss Goodbye to MS and Samurai Jack are on their way to Coffs Harbour. KG2MS needs flat water to repair her sail damage and SJ have detected cracks in their keel casing. Southern Cross have repaired their steering in Brisbane however are now having starter motor problems which is delaying their restart. Meanwhile Optimus Prime is in Sydney to repair their forestay which gave way east of Eden. Problems are compounded because of the Easter holiday and being unable to obtain parts.

Cadibarra 8 who had positioned themselves east of the fleet have located and repaired the problem with their HF radio and dried out their bilge swimming pool which was triggering the sail drive alarm. They are still looking for that elusive north streaming current.

The rest of the fleet are reporting no damage although Funnel Web narrowly avoided a major incident in the galley caused by fatigue. Luckily it has resulted in only a big clean up task. They have sailed conservatively and hope to make up some ground with some fast reaching and running once they hit the tradewinds.

Turbulence, Escapade, Spirit of Downunder and Wasabi have not reported any issues.

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