Sea, Sail & Surf

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New York To Melbourne

Trimaran Great American II breaks Gold Rush clipper ship record

mardi 27 novembre 2001

A finish gun fired from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria at 1:29 PM today signaled a new sailing record Record #sailingrecord from New York City to Melbourne. The 53-foot trimaran Great American II completed the 15,000-mile voyage to Australia in 68 days 10 hours 7 minutes 52 seconds, breaking a record Record #sailingrecord that had stood for 146 years.

American adventurers Rich Wilson, from Rockport, Massachusetts, and his co-skipper Bill Biewenga, from Newport, Rhode Island, waved to supporters and well wishers as they crossed a finish line in Hobson’s Bay, off the yacht club. They had broken the record Record #sailingrecord of 69 days, 14 hours, set by the American extreme clipper ship Mandarin as she carried prospectors to the Australian Gold Rush in the winter of 1855-56.

In a similar feat eight years ago the two men sailed the same boat around Cape Horn, from San Francisco to Boston, breaking the record Record #sailingrecord of the clipper ship Northern Light and setting a new mark of 69 days 20 hours.

Wilson said today that he has asked the World Speed Sailing Record Council in the United Kingdom to ratify the new passage time for its record books.

After her long ocean voyage, Great American II entered relatively sheltered waters through the notorious Rip at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay soon after dawn this morning. The southwesterly breeze that allowed the two sailors to maintain a steady ten knot average speed for the past few days began dying as they sailed up the Bay towards Melbourne.

Before they left New York, Wilson was optimistic that they could complete the voyage through the North and South Atlantic Oceans, around the Cape of Good Hope and across the southernmost regions of the India Ocean in about 60 days. However, after being slowed by light headwinds after leaving New York and again as the neared Australia, Wilson expressed doubt that they would be able to match the clipper ship’s time.

"It is going to be a nailbiter !" he said one week before the finish. "If we can’t get good breezes for the remainder of thebvoyage, this recordbwill remain for another attempt."

At the finish today, Great American II picked up a fresh breeze and sped across the finish line off the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, doing 15 knots in a flurry of spray and leaving the supporters boat far behind.

The website tracking the voyage of Great American II is The Ocean Challenge voyage is one of nine educational programs bringing real-life interactive learning experiences to school children through the World Wide Web.

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