Yachts competing in the Melbourne to Osaka ocean race that were forced to shelter in Queensland ports from Cyclone Ibis early this week re-started their 5,500 nautical mile voyage to Japan on Friday.
They headed out to sea from Southport, Brisbane, Bundaberg and Gladstone for a designated re-start from their suspended racing latitude, irrespective of longitude.
The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria’s race director Simon Dryden announced the re-start plans “after careful review of the weather situation, and the conditions relating to safe exit from refuges.”
The club issued a safety warning and exclusion zone for the fleet early this week as the re-formed Cylone Iris bore down the Queensland coast.
As the fleet set sail again the little Tasmanian yacht Morning Star continued to extend her commanding lead over the 19 boat fleet northwards in the Pacific Ocean.
Sailed by Jo Breen and Peter Brooks from Launceston’s Tamar Yacht Club, the 34-foot Morning Star was one of three yachts cleared by the ORCV as outside the cyclone’s ‘critical area’ and able to continue racing.
Morning Star, the oldest and smallest boat in the fleet, was first away from Melbourne’s Port Phillip on March 15 and is now north of Bougainville, almost 2400 nautical mile from the finish of the 5,500 mile race.
Powering northwards and taking advantage of fresh to strong winds on the edge of the now tropical storm, the biggest and fast yacht in the fleet, Sydney Hobart racer Chinese Whisper has now sailed past the majority of the fleet.
In hot pursuit of the 34-foot Morning Star, Chinese Whisper is almost twice as big at 62-feet LOA and the latest concept in ocean racing design.
Her crew of Sydney yachtsmen Rupert Henry and Greg O’Shea reported hitting 17 knots yesterday morning as she sailed to fifth place in fleet after being last to start, last Sunday, April 1.
The second Tasmanian yacht in the race, Force Eleven, sailed by Tristan Gourlay and Jamie Cooper, also from the Tamar Yacht Club, sought shelter in Southport on the eve of the start of Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Relaxing after a rough and wet ‘’four hundred miles on the nose’’ sail up the New South Wales Coast, the two Tasmanians agreed that the ORCV had made the right decision in advising yachts to head for port as Cyclone Ibis powered down the Queensland coast.
Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Ocean Racing Club of Tasmania
7 April 2018