Fred Bestall’s return to Australia and the yacht racing scene marks a big step up from his time living in California in the 1980s racing a heavy one-tonner, the last competitive boat he owned.
Three months ago Bestall bought Bob Steel’s 2002 Sydney Hobart winner called Quest and in early January 2017 he’ll contest the very first Club Marine Pittwater to Southport Yacht Race sailing the rebadged Auric’s Quest for his home state of Queensland and the finish partner, Southport Yacht Club.
“My old boat was a one-tonner I bought from Denis Connor in the ‘80s that was either very fast or very slow, no in between, whereas my new boat is a 46-foot dinghy and a much higher level of racing,” said Bestall talking about his entry in the 370 nautical mile sprint due to start off Barrenjoey Headland at 1pm on Monday January 2, 2017.
Three days before the 10th Brisbane to Keppel Race back in August, Bestall took ownership of Steel’s champion Nelson/Marek design and renamed it Auric’s Quest, after his company and the Latin term for gold. He set off with a pre-assembled crew for what turned out to be a baptism of fire – a breezy and ultimately record-breaking run north for the eventual line honours winner, Wild Oats XI.