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May 13, 2003

Sailors With disABILITIES

From: US Sailing - May 13, 2003


'03 Project' Underway as Sailors with disABILITIES Aim for Around Australia Record

David Pescud and six crew members from Sailors with disAbilities quietly slipped out of a sparkling and sunny Sydney Harbour today, heading north aboard their yacht KAZ, in their attempt to break the unofficial Around Australia record.

In a recent announcement at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), Pescud said that he and his crew would circumnavigate Australia non-stop and unassisted on the group's Lyons 54' yacht, KAZ. In doing so, the aim is to beat Kanga Birtles' unofficial time of just under 44 days, set in 1999 and therefore create an official World Record - a first for an able-bodied or disabled crew.

Pescud's crew comprises Phil Thompson, a cancer sufferer who had his left arm amputated, Kim Jaggar, also a left arm amputee after a skiing accident as a child, Harald Mirlieb who is deaf, Allan Grundy a polio sufferer, Albert Lee, a double leg amputee after falling from a train, and Brett Pearce who has Spina Bifida.

All were excited and looking forward to their trip as they waved goodbye to loved ones, and representatives from their sponsors, KAZ, as they headed to the Opera House before departing the Harbour, the official starting point is South Head, from where an official from the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC), based in the UK, will take an official start and finish time

Roger 'Clouds' Badham, Australia's most prominent yachting meteorologist, said the ideal time for the yacht to leave would have been on the weekend, but unfortunately Pescud and his crew were still completing final tasks on the yacht.

"Yes, we do need refrigeration, and everything in good working order, and we finally finished all those jobs late Sunday night, and decided this morning, 'well this is it, let's just go,' and that's exactly what we did," he said from the yacht today.

Officially, KAZ left South Head at 12.42.42pm today Sydney time, in a light 6-8 knot easterly breeze, to circumnavigate Australia in an anti-clockwise direction.
KAZ needs to average a 6.2 knot boat speed to crack the record, and although today's conditions were not ideal, Badham said, "today is not too good on the Queensland coast, but it's better than waiting another few days. It will remain soft and from the east until this afternoon, but they can expect 15-16 knots as they go further up the coast this afternoon and into the evening."

"Tomorrow is looking better, it will freshen late in the afternoon, with a trough developing of the NSW and Queensland coasts, with winds intensifying in the 20-25 knot range, from the east and south-east, which will push them along nicely under spinnaker on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The breeze will go further south on Thursday, and could be light for them off Brisbane and Fraser Island. A low could develop close to the coast at that time, and that is the worst scenario for them, and puts a question mark on Friday's weather. Saturday and Sunday will see them in better conditions again," Badham added.

Pescud and crew will communicate as regularly from KAZ as the conditions will allow and is carrying a tracker allowing the public to follow their progress.

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