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Hong Kong Sailboat Enters 2010 Port Huron-to-Mackinac Race

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beau geste1 Hong Kong Sailboat Enters 2010 Port Huron to Mackinac Race

80-foot maxi boat Beau Geste from Hong kong enters '10 Port Huron-to-Mackinac race. (LEIGHTON O'CONNOR/Special to the Free Press)

Beau geste, French for ‘fine’ or ‘gracious gesture,’ is an 80-foot sailboat out of Hong Kong entered in the 2010 Port Huron-to-Mackinac sailboat race, starting July 17.

Owner 61-year-old Karl Kwok, a third-generation owner of a Hong Kong department store, Wing On, is bringing a crew of 20 to Port Huron, and it’s a very international crew — Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, an Englishman and three of Kwok’s friends from Hong Kong.

Beau Geste is expected to give another maxi — Doug DeVos’ 86-foot Windquest — a race for ‘line honors’ as the first boat to finish the nearly 300-mile course up Lake Huron.

The white boat with red dragon graphic on the hull is a  Bruce Farr design that has been clocked at 30 knots in the right wind, with typical upwind speed of 12 or 13 knots and typical downwind speed of 18 to 19 knots, and has an 18-foot keel that can be retracted to allow the boat to enter shallower harbors.

Since launch in May 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand, Beau Geste has taken line honors in the Fastnet race, finished second in class at the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia and second in the  Middle Sea race around Malta and Sicily. In a transatlantic race in November, it again took line honors and broke the record by a full day, finishing in nine days.

In February, Beau Geste did a 600-mile Caribbean race, where it took both line honors and first overall. It had just taken line honors, breaking the 90-hour record by a full 20 hours, in a race from Annapolis to Bermuda.

The 2010 Port Huron-to-Mackinac race will be Kwok’s first, although he told the Detroit Free Press he has done the Chicago-to-Mackinac race, in 2005, and he knows the difference between frash- and salt-water racing: “You don’t need to wipe the salt spray off your sunglasses, but you do need to bring your bug spray,” Kwok said.

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