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by Peter Campbell on 1 Dec 2000
Overseas yachts entered for the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race are
experiencing extreme variations in weather conditions as they head for
Sydney, with Assa Abloy struggling in light winds off the coast of
Queensland on her voyage from Hong Kong and the German yacht illbruck making
high speeds far south in the Tasman Sea.

The yachts are two of the five Volvo Ocean 60s entered for the Sydney to
Hobart, the other three coming by ship - or already here.

Assa Abloy, the former Whitbread 60 Chessie Racing which has recently been
racing as Beau Geste in Hong Kong, has run into a tropical cyclone and, in
the past two weeks, little wind on her voyage south from Hong Kong.

Skippered by American Mark Rudiger, Assa Abloy had originally been due in
Sydney on 24 November; her ETA is now 8 December.

'This will leave a very tight schedule for the crew as the hull has to
undergo a full refurbishment and repaint and a new Australian-made carbon
fibre mast has to be stepped, and the rig tuned and new sails tested,' team
shore manager Joe de Kock said today.

'We will miss the lead-up races but we are confident that she will be ready
for the Telstra Sydney to Hobart.'

As Assa Abloy struggles south, an email from John Kostecki, skipper of
illbruck Challenge reports 'another high speed day of downwind
the Tasman Sea' as the yacht heads towards Auckland on a training voyage
from Fremantle.

'Our overall average speed for the entire trip so far has been 14 knots.
This is faster than any Whitbread/Volvo Race legs in the last race. It has
been a fast trip,' he reports.

Kostecki said the position of illbruck today was 380 nautical miles from
Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of New Zealand and 180 miles from
Auckland, which they expect to reach over the weekend.

After a week in Auckland, the German yacht will sail back across the Tasman
to Sydney for the Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race.

Of the other Volvo Ocean 60s, the Bermudan entry Tyco has arrived in Sydney
from the USA, Nokia is due early next week Denmark, while News Corporation
will sail across the Tasman from Auckland early next month.

The Swedish 80-footer Nicorette (ex Skandia) arrived by ship last weekend
and, after being re-painted and fitted with her racing keel, will be
launched under her new sponsorship livery on Sydney Harbour tomorrow.

Already in Sydney are two British entries, Sunstone and Aera, and the
Italian Navy training yacht, Orsa Maggiore.

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