One month until the start of the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race and two-time Rolex China Sea Race Overall and Line Honours winner Karl Kwok is set to return to the event on his newest edition of Beau Geste, a MOD70 one-design trimaran.
The Rolex China Sea Race has retained the original Corinthian ethos that lies at the heart of title-sponsor Rolex’s 60-year relationship with yachting. As partner to the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, organisers of the Rolex China Sea Race, the ties between Rolex and this offshore classic are natural and based on the Swiss watchmaker’s ongoing support for individual excellence. The Rolex China Sea Race capitalises on Hong Kong’s distinctive energy, with a race start in Victoria Harbour surrounded by the city’s impressive high-rise panorama. The competing yachts negotiate both traditional and modern sea traffic before embarking on the open water section of the 565-nautical mile course to Subic Bay in the Philippines.
Hong Kong native and successful businessman, Karl Kwok is the only owner in Rolex China Sea Race history to have won both Overall and Line Honours in two editions of the race. Kwok started competitive sailing when he joined the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in 1975 and embarked on his first Rolex China Sea Race on a Dubois 37 HINYUAN II with partner Gaston Chan in 1982.
In the 2000 edition, Kwok bested his own Farr ILC40’ Beau Geste 1996 record by an incredible 28h 10m 49s on his Whitbred 60 Beau Geste. He held this epic Rolex China Sea Race record of 47h 43m 07s for an incredible 16 years until Alive, a Reichel/Pugh 66, broke it by a mere 11m 59s in the 2016 edition.
We caught up with Kwok, who has just come out of a successful Pic Coastal Classic and Bay of Islands Sailing Week in New Zealand, on switching to multihulls and his preparation going into the Rolex China Sea Race.. “We have been learning the ins and outs of the MOD in New Zealand racing other world class teams. We have a lot of respect for this boat. This has been the perfect build up to the Rolex China Sea Race. New Zealand is a very good location to work on your multihull skills thanks to so much talent around from sailing to service work. With that in mind, we have had a very structured process to learn the MOD. It has been extremely enjoyable and in many ways like learning to sail again.”
Joining Kwok on board will be his regular team of experienced world class sailors who have been on the MOD over the past six month including tactician (New Zealand America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailor) Gavin Brady, navigator (British five time Volvo Ocean Race sailor) Matthew Humphries as well as RHKYC sailors Margaret Chan and Patrick Kong.
This year Beau Geste will be sailing under the HKPN rating (Hong Kong Performance Number) instead of IRC and will be in contention for the race record and line-honours. With Kwok’s success in past races we asked if he had any advice for the sailors, “Rolex China Sea Race is a very tactical offshore race. Having a solid plan before the start with small adjustments along the race course shall be the key to success.”
MOD Beau Geste will join the already 32-strong entry list with boats hailing from six territories including Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Mainland China, USA and Hong Kong. Among the 2018 lineup are Alive, the 2016 Line Honours and 2nd Overall winner; the famous classic yacht Dorade, built in 1929 and which recently completed the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race; several China entries including Seawolf, Shanghai 141237, Tong Ran and UBOX; and a father-son double-handed team on AYA.
The Notice of Race for the 2018 Rolex China Sea Race starting on 28 March 2018 is available online at www.rolexchinasearace.com.