Big boat Beau Geste big threat to Wild Oats IX race record
THE ADDITION of Karl Kwok's 80-foot maxi Beau Geste puts a big boat into the 34th Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Yacht Race for the first time in several years.
The former Sydney to Hobart racer shapes up as a very real threat to Wild Oats IX's longstanding course record.
For the past 12 months, Kwok and campaign manager Gavin Brady have been running a busy two-boat racing program in New Zealand and Australia.
Beau Geste struck gold by delivering Kwok the prestigious Audi IRC Australian Championship class-A title at Hamilton Island in August.
Brady was originally pressing to make the Rolex Sydney-Hobart start line on Boxing Day but the owner's family commitments at Christmas mean the Pittwater to Coffs race is a better option.
"Karl has always jokingly said 'why don't we do the Coffs race?' as it goes north and has nice weather," Brady said.
"The timing is very different and it's a big commitment for the guys from overseas to spend Christmas day in a hotel room without their families before the Hobart.
"I've never done a race going north out of Sydney Heads.
"Given we are concentrating on Australian bluewater racing next year, including the Sydney to Mooloolaba and Sydney to Gold Coast races, getting to know that 226 nautical mile leg is going to be handy."
The monohull course benchmark sits at 18hr 29min 14sec set in 2003 by Bob Oatley's Wild Oats IX skippered by Mark Richards.
Last January, Team Australia set a multihull record of 17hrs 3min 5sec and Sean Langman and his crew are returning.
The race starts at 1pm on Friday, January 2, from a line to the north of Barrenjoey Headland on Sydney's northern beaches.