by George Shaw
Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013 - At the 3 pm update today Escapade was well into Manning Strait in the northern Solomon Islands. Some fairly strong tides there, which should make for an interesting navigation exercise as it gets towards dark.
Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013 - Yasu at helm
Last night’s email from Robert and Joey described how they planned to get through the Solomons; that plan was modified slightly by the weather:
'Those watching the tracker will see that we are approaching the Solomon Islands with the intention to pass between Lanalau and Vangunu islands into 'The Slot' or New Georgia Sound and exit via Manning Strait. Our original intentions included going east of the entire Solomon Is group with the intention of getting into the NE trades sooner and avoid the dead patches around New Ireland and Bougainville.
Melbourne to Osaka Race 2013 - Manning Strait
However a small low formed itself up right in our path (Long 160E) and forced us to skirt around it to the east. Even then we had to take a day off to watch the waves turn to glass. Current plan is to get through the Solomon Is. as described above and then head north to keep in the good breeze to the equator then dial up 'Goto Osaka' on the autopilot and make a run for home - 2000M run that is! Highlight of the day - 10kts under the asymmetric spinnaker'
Wasabi, Cadibarra 8 and Spirit of Downunder are leading the pack chasing down Escapade; with Wasabi approaching 17 degrees south, about 500 nautical miles south west of the Solomons, and the other two boats within 50 to 80 miles of Wasabi.
Turbulence’s tracker is still intermittent, for no obvious reason, but at 7.00 am today they were close to 18 South 156 East; that is, not too far from the 3.00 pm positions of Spirit of Downunder and Cadibarra 8.
Kiss Goodbye to MS and Funnelweb are about a hundred and fifty miles south of Wasabi’s latitude, with Optimus Prime around another hundred miles behind them and rapidly making up the time lost in their earlier diversion to Sydney.
Samurai Jack and Southern Cross are also well and truly back into the race, with SJ about 70 miles in front of the Japanese boat. The Wednesday evening email from Samurai Jack was very positive:
'As we kiss goodbye to Fraser Island, we bid farewell to Australia and cell phone reception as we progress to cross the prominent north- south current that we've been avoiding since the decision to hug the coast was made ( before the start!).
Since leaving Coffs Harbour our keel frame is proving itself to have been fixed (touch wood). We've enjoyed flying our symmetrical big foot kite and have just taken it down and to replace it is our number three headsail so we can gain some longitude E.
Expecting SE for the next couple days, looking forward to some great surfing'.
Also received an update from Southern Cross skipper Yasu this morning. Once again he is in a poetic mood - 'It's great to be back in the competition. Last night we could see countless numbers of fishing trawlers at work on both sides of us. The electric lights look beautiful and so did the waning moon as it rose above the bright vacant horizon.
The atmosphere around us became transparent and across Southern Cross stars shone in the sky directly above us.
It's the changing of the season and we look beyond the equator. Its cold at night and we need to wear a long sleeved wind-cheater. When the sun comes up it’s hot again and time for a polo shirt.
The wind is rapidly shifting from the East to the South West. We’re aiming for the north flowing current at 20 South 158 East but how far we travel east will depend on the wind. The entrance to the Solomon Sea is 155 east. From today we’re expecting that the wind will become much stronger'.
Gusto is less than 200 miles behind Southern Cross – close to 600 behind Wasabi but is getting back into her stride. Last night, Brian told us 'all good got the trades now hope they stay in'.
Melbourne to Osaka Race website