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Hyde Sails 2017 Dinghy Show

Winds control Melbourne to Osaka

by Ian Howarth and Sail-World 19 Mar 2018 20:51 PDT From 15 March 2018
Bartolomeo gets underway rigged for storm. © Ian MacWilliams

The main fleet in the Sundance Marine 2018 Melbourne to Osaka yacht race will head out of Port Phillip on Sunday, March 25 @1355hrs AEDT from the Portsea Pier to start the world’s longest South to North race, a journey of 5,500 nautical miles. Three boats have already started the event. The sturdy S&S 34 Morning Star sailed by Jo Breen and Peter Brooks began the voyage on Thursday, March 15 and have battled some wild conditions in Bass Strait. While currently battling head winds up the NSW coast conditions have eased significantly.

Those same wild conditions, with winds up to 60 knots in Port Phillip, forced a delay in the start for Japanese entry Bartolome as well as the smallest boat in the fleet The Edge. Bartolome has a Japanese crew of Keiichirou and Masakazu Omoto who sailed the boat to Australia for the start. Then at 10.30 am on Monday, March 19, the pair set out for home and have been enjoying the strong but favourable, fast, downwind conditions in Bass Strait.

The staggered start is designed to ensure the fleet all arrives and is present in Osaka for the official presentations and celebrations in early May. The entire fleet of 19 confirmed starters in the Sundance Marine M2O race 2018 has been given a strong send-off through a series of events including a Civic Reception by the Melbourne City Council at the impressive Melbourne Town Hall.

Melbourne and Osaka have enjoyed a 'Sister City' relationship for 40 years with the Melbourne City Council providing significant support for the event. Host yacht club in Japan, the Osaka Hokko Yacht Club, sent a delegation of 32, including the Commodore and vice Commodore, to Australia for the start of the event and the pre-race festivities also included Mr Kazuyoshi Matsunaga, Consul-General of Japan in Melbourne.

The support of the Melbourne City Council, has been unwavering and very much appreciated since the first Melbourne to Osaka race. The success of the pre-race Civic Reception again demonstrated that strong support. The race crews were presented with their competitor flags and a commemorative badge from the Osaka Hokko Yacht Club commodore. While some have already started, the rest of the competitors are keenly anticipating the event getting underway after two years of planning and preparation.

Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour will act as start vessel for the 5,500 nautical mile race. The Tallship was a gift from the United Kingdom to the Government and people of Australia to mark the Bicentenary in 1988 and has become Australia's sail training flagship. Around the world solo sailor, Jessica Watson and Ken Gourlay will officiate at the start of this iconic event. Watson was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for completing a southern hemisphere solo non-stop circumnavigation in 2010 at the age of 16, then in 2011, the Queenslander was named Young Australian of the Year.

Ken Gourlay completed a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the world in 2007, the only Tasmanian to achieve this feat and the oldest and fastest Australian to do so. Along the way he raised over $127,000 for the Tasmanian-based Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust for eyesight disorders and diseases in children.

Aerial acrobatic flyers, the Roulettes, will fly over the Portsea Pier and fleet as the Warning Signal is fired. Established in 1970 and distinguished by their red-and-white theme, the Roulettes never fail to excite the crowds with their precision acrobatics. Completing the picture will be the renowned Royal Australian Air Force's jazz quintet which will entertain the public around the foreshore and the Pier and organisers will be on hand to address the public.

Entries represent Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, NSW, Tasmania and Japan.

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