Rolex Sydney Hobart 2013 - Hong Kong Businessman Karl Kwok won the 1997 Hobart at his first attempt in a Farr 40 called Beau Geste. Now he is back, as he says putting his batting average on the line with another attempt.
Karl Kwok onboard his previous Beau Geste
Karl Kwok onboard his previous Beau Geste during the Rolex Middle Sea Race
His new Cookson built boat, a Botin designed 80 footer again called Beau Geste, launched just a month ago is a replacement for his Farr 80, which split in two in a swelly but not heavy weather Auckland Noumea Race off Norfolk Island last year.
TP52 Southern Cross Cup 2013 - Team Beau Geste offshore
Kwok and his crew know what it takes to win, they flew from Sydney to Auckland after an impressive TP52 circuit victory in Sydney, with yet another Beau Geste and then hit the ditch with the Botin 80 heading for Sydney.
It’s been an intense program as Kwok’s long time fleet manager New Zealander Gavin Brady explains:
‘Obviously the last boat wasn’t an option to repair. The boat was incredibly sound in nearly every area but the deck of the boat was too light. We would have just been putting bandages on the boat and after our quite serious issue we had with the boat we didn’t want to put ourselves in that position again.
'So the new boat choice had to be made. The Volvo Race has proved countless times now that the canting keelboat is now mainstream offshore and hard to beat because they are so efficient. They don’t rely on the crew weight and other things, hence our move in that direction.
'There is a lot more structure in the boat, especially in the deck and some other engineering aft,' Brady explains.
'It’s designed to be more of a coastal boat - for the Fastnet, Rolex Sydney Hobart, and Bermuda and so on. With a coastal race you’ve got to sail to VMG, both upwind and downwind, so a coastal boat is more of a Mediterranean style, maxi-worlds type of boat than say a Volvo 70. It also has similar foils to a Volvo 70, with dagger boards and a canting keel that is lighter than most in its division.'
‘We also believe that 80 feet is an efficient size for the human beings on board to be physically able to sail the boat. If you see a wind shift in front of you we would like to think that we can roll into a tack pretty quickly.
‘We can gybe and we can manoeuvre the boat and we can manoeuvre sails a lot more efficiently than a 100 footer. We think we have also kept it to a size that you can actually get more out of the boat.
‘You can never sail a boat offshore a 100% as you well know but it is always about how close to a 100% can you keep this machine going and we know the 100s they rely on their length more than their efficiency to win the Hobart.
‘We have taken different approach to this Hobart. We did our build up in Auckland with the sailing team and fairly aggressive sailing positions and then we set sail the boat to Sydney with the race team on 17th December.
'Really Sydney is like a pit stop for us. Basically we have got to be ready for the Sydney to Hobart when we leave Auckland.
Beau Geste - November 21, 2013
'We took it easy at certain times because we could not afford to break the boat but on the other hand we certainly tested the boat and the crew and the systems all the way across.
'The race crew, with the navigator, with all the guys in their race positions. The watch systems were fully operational. Before that we had a good amount of time in Auckland sailing together as a full race team as well.
'I have looked at all the other Hobart’s and I actually think ironically we are going to be better prepared for this one more than any other Hobart I have ever done and yet the boats was quite late being built.
'Hopefully on Constitution dock we will talk about the advantages we gained from the hard sailing we've just done as being the preparation that delivered the result that kept our batting average intact.'