Abrupt end to M32 Hong Kong record attempt

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Racing catamaran? Check. Record-breaking Skipper? Check. Crack crew? Check. Strong winds? Check. Onboard reporter? Check. Luck? er…nope; not this time.

Goodness these things can move! Even up-wind we had the M32 pulling close to 18 knots and this in a big swell. I was aboard an M32 catamaran with a crew pulled together by Nick Moloney, Australian Around the World and America’s Cup yachtsman and current holder of the Hong Kong Around the Island Race record, as well as the Macau to Hong Kong record set on a windsurfer.

We were out mid-week and making our way up to the Northerly most waters of Hong Kong where the seas revert to mainland Chinese control. Our aim was to set a new record for sailing from the North to South of Hong Kong. This record would complete Nick’s trinity of Hong Kong records, adding to the Around the Island record and the Macau to Hong Kong record, the former which Nick beat in 2013 on an Extreme 40, the latter which Nick set in 2015 on a windsurfer.

This record would complete Nick’s trinity of Hong Kong records, adding to the Around the Island record and the Macau to Hong Kong record

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The sky was grey but the wind was ideal for the attempt at around 15-20 knots; what was far from perfect though was the swell which was both choppy and high by Hong Kong standards – about 1m in height and close together. As we were creating a record that had never been set before, all we needed to do that day was complete the course. As we beat our way up past Sai Kung towards our starting point close to Tung Ping Chau Island the boat twisted and creaked in the waves. Carbon fiber is about as strong as it gets for the weight, but twisting two hulls in this way must create pressures and loads one can only imagine.  I was quietly wondering what one does on an M32 if the boat folds in two!

Carbon fiber is about as strong as it gets for the weight, but twisting two hulls in this way must create pressures and loads one can only imagine

In the event though the structure of the boat was perfectly sound; it was the steering system that failed us (later we learned it may not have been set it up correctly. As we were approaching our first hour on the water, the entire port side steering system ripped straight out of it’s brackets, sheered in two and sank. This left our disappointed skipper with only one rudder – no tiller and several fragments of carbon fiber. Record setting attempt over – it was time to go home and plan for the next attempt.

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The record attempt was sponsored by Apsu Multivitamin supplements.

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