Monday 19th March sees the first of the Jeanneau Sun Fast racing yachts start in one of the most challenging double handed yacht races, the Melbourne Osaka Cup.
Held every four years, the race covers five and half thousand nautical miles passing through a wide range of weather systems as it crosses the expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
As soon as the competitors start they are faced with the notorious Bass Strait before heading up the east coast of Australia. Through the Solomon Islands they will encounter the doldrums before enjoying some trade wind sailing then taking on the Kuroshio Current along the east coast of Japan.
Four Jeanneau Sun Fasts are competing in the 2018 race which was first held in 1987. The Sun Fast 3200 ‘The Edge’ is the first to start co-skippered by Australians David Kenny and Paul Schulz. After sailing with and against each other for many years they have now taken up the personal challenge of sailing together shorthanded to Osaka, Japan.
“The seed was planted about twenty years ago” says Kenny, “but the journey started in earnest 2 or 3 years ago when we purchased the boat.” Kenny has done many miles sailing in Western Australian waters, across the Great Australian Bight and around Tasmania. He has also sailed double handed from Capetown South Africa back to Fremantle West Australia so has a good idea of what to expect from this adventure.
That said, Kenny is still very much aware that this race has its own set of challenges. “We’re ready to go, keen to get out there and see if we’ve got what it takes to sail to Osaka double handed.”
Paul Schulz is equally aware. A veteran of a number of ocean races including the world renowned Sydney to Hobart, Schulz is an Australian 18ft Skiff Champion and as CEO of Gill Australia, is heavily involved in the marine industry. Very competitive but with a fairly laid back personality Schulz’s comment when asked about the 25-30 knots they were going to face initially was that “the weather looks fairly ordinary, but at least it is from the right direction.”
Ordinary it may be, but this is no race for those who have not made a massive commitment. Watch closely as the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 ‘The Edge’ sets off, before three Sun Fast 3600s face the starter’s gun just one week later.