Aussies chasing Fastnet glory

The Australian-owned classic maxi Kialoa II has sailed from Pittwater to the UK for the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race – and has silverware in her sights.

20 July 2023


With just a couple of days to run before the start of the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race, one crew from Australia will be hoping for fair winds and a fair run along the famous 600-mile course.

Iconic classic maxi yacht Kialoa II has journeyed halfway around the world to make the start line, and with a crew that reads like a who’s who of offshore, ocean and elite level racing, her owners – Paddy and Mel Broughton, and Paddy’s brother Keith Broughton – will be angling for a historic result in this historic edition of the race.

Kialoa II’s navigator Lindsay May OAM is a racing veteran who has chalked up an impressive 49 consecutive Sydney to Hobart starts, and he was a key member of the crew who helped deliver the boat from Australia to reach Falmouth, UK, earlier in the Northern Hemisphere summer.

“The plan was originally to sail via Cape Horn so Paddy and the boat could complete their circumnavigation south of the great Capes, but about seven days out from New Zealand we pulled the forestay fitting out of the boat,” May recalls.

“So we diverted to Papeete in Tahiti, and people from all over the world came together to find a marina that had the people who could do the repairs.


“They originally said it would take five weeks, but Paddy said we didn’t have five weeks as we had to get to the Fastnet start – and we were out of there in eight days! It was all thanks to all those people who helped put us in touch with the right people by email before we even got there.”

The impromptu stop forced a change in itinerary, and Kialoa II made her way from Tahiti to the Panama Canal, then onto Antigua, the Azores, and finally the UK. Once there, she had some work done – including fresh varnish – with the crew arriving in July to get her ready to race.

Kialoa II – originally a sloop before she was converted to a yawl – has serious pedigree. Built in California and delivered to her first owner, Jim Kilroy, in 1964, the 73-5-footer was designed by the legendary Sparkman & Stephens office and at the time the largest aluminium yacht built in the US. She went on to compete in some of the world’s most iconic races, including the 1969 Fastnet where she came second, and won many, including the 1965 Transpac and the gruelling 1971 Sydney-Hobart.

“In Tahiti, a Canadian cruising guy came past, and he sort of looked at the boat and he said ‘Oh, is that boat named after the famous sailing boat?’ I said, mate, this is the famous sailing boat! He was suitably impressed.”

Paddy and Keith Broughton boat the yacht in 2016 with the aim of competing in the big ocean races just as her original owner had done. She raced in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet, with Paddy then sailing her home to Pittwater, Australia, in time for the 2017 Rolex Sydney-Hobart.

This year’s Rolex Fastnet Race offers several challenges for Kialoa II and her crew, not least of which is the sheer number of competitors – a record entry of 491 yachts from 9 metres to 32 metres in length.

The Broughtons won’t be lacking in confidence, however – as well as their own extraordinary sailing achievements, their Fastnet crew includes a huge depth of talent. May himself was navigator on the famous maxi yacht Brindabella for a decade among many other achievements that include being world 8-metre champion.

There’s Andrew Cutler, a veteran of Olympic selections and two America’s Cup campaigns; Genevieve White, who among other things competed in the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Amer Sports Too; and a host of talent hailing more or less evenly from Australia and the UK that boast a huge number of Fastnets, Sydney-Hobarts, Transpacs and many more classics between them. “I think we’ve got 18 crew for the Rolex Fastnet,” says May.

It suggests that with the right conditions, Kialoa II really could be in with a chance of lifting the silverware. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Stranger things have happened. You get a couple of tidal gates and you’re looking famous, otherwise, you’re kedged somewhere!

“It’s a possibility,” he continues. “What we need is a following breeze that doesn’t get over about 13 or 14 knots, because this boat doesn’t surf, so if everyone’s rolling along and they have that speed we’re really, really good on that.

“So, if we had a low pressure and a spinnaker run we could do pretty well. Anyway, I understand we’ll get the trophy for the boat that has sailed the furthest to get to the start at least!”

With huge experience on board and with a huge amount of local knowledge too, it will be fascinating to see how Kialoa II stacks up against the competition. And if they do manage to lift a trophy, will it be an Australian or a British victory? “The team works pretty well together,” May says with a grin, and leaves it at that.

To follow the Rolex Fastnet and track competing yachts, head to the race website at rolexfastnetrace.com. To learn more about Kialoa II and the crew  racing her, head to kialoa2.com.au.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement