Eighty-five teams competed on the North Sea in the first-ever IRC/ORC Offshore World Championship in The Hague. Yachts ranging between nine to 20 meters battled for podium space across three classes in this highly competitive regatta. Close racing left little room for errors throughout the week of varying conditions and race courses. In the end, Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste was named World Champion; a title they credit with being well prepared and executing spot-on boat handling.
“Understanding the handicap rule, and then optimizing the boat was key to our success in The Hague,” commented Dave Lenz, North Sails designer, and Beau Geste tactician. “It is quite a challenge to get a boat optimized for IRC/ORC racing. You have to run your ideas through simulations in advance, where you’ll often find there are conflicts. Some rules favor a certain boat setup, and identifying potential gains and losses ahead of time helps us make well-informed decisions.”
Lenz was also quick to point out the strength of the Beau Geste crew. “It was my first time racing with this team, and I was impressed by the collection of experience and expertise onboard. Team captain Gavin Brady is a great leader and was on the helm all week. Our hardest part of racing was fending off second place Outsider who was close to matching our boat speed. The crew did a great job staying focused, especially when we had to execute some match racing skills to fend off Outsider.”
Fellow North Sails expert Dave Swete has been with Beau Geste for five years and joined Lenz onboard as lead-grinder. Both Swete and Lenz expressed their satisfaction in the boat’s 3Di inventory, and agree the sails were light, easy to handle and well matched for IRC/ORC sailing. Beau Geste’s secret weapon offshore was the 3Di Helix Luff Code Zero.
“Our new Helix Luff Code Zero proved handy and performed well in the offshore race,” said Lenz. “It can be tough using a Code sail between a spinnaker and jib when you need to cover a wide range. I feel that the Helix Code did just that in an offshore race which gave us 100 and 110-TWA. Our North Sails Helix Code was the perfect option with a lot of breeze.”
Beau Geste works closely with the North Sails team in New Zealand and designer Magnus Doole. “Our owner Karl highlighted that he wanted to win the event, so we knew getting a jump on our closest competition was critical,” reflects Swete. “There was a lot to consider each race because we needed to perform well under the two rating systems. Magnus and the team in New Zealand did a great job getting the boat exactly what she needed. We are feeling pretty good after our accomplishment at the Worlds.”