5-Minute Interview With Donovan Chow, Ship Operations Manager of Outward Bound Hong Kong

Written by Candy Yan

What are the challenges of organising this overseas sailing journey?

Challenges organising an overseas programme mainly come down to orchestrating people, equipment, and necessary documentation to ensure information, purchasing and coordination all occur in a timely matter.

Why do you choose Taiwan as the destination?

Taiwan is a nearby destination, less than 400 nautical miles away given that 'Spirit' has not been offshore for some years it is sensible to choose a destination port not too far away with reliable services and facilities.

As part of this crew, what is your expectation of this journey?

I would expect this programme to be a great opportunity to put to test all of the work we have placed in creating safe practices, procedures, and policies. Putting to test new equipment and instrumentation purchased and demonstrating the feasibility of running such programmes on a regular basis.

What kind of challenges will you foresee during the journey?

Weather is always unpredictable and ever-changing hence we are always at its mercy which could impact the programme dates.

When was the last time OBHK held an overseas sailing programme?

Last time 'Spirit' sailed offshore was in 2011 also to Taiwan.

Where were the destinations? 

'Spirit' has also sailed to the Philippines and even up to Japan in her years with OBHK!

 Can you tell me a little bit background of the "Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong"? 

“Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong” has a long and distinguished history beginning in 1970 when Sir Chay Blyth became the first person to sail around the world single-handedly from East to West, against the prevailing winds and currents. Blyth’s own yacht ‘British Steel’ was of a similar size and in 1973, skippered the yacht ‘Great Britain’ around the world in the Whitbread Race (now known as the ‘Volvo Ocean Race’) with a crew of complete beginners.

These two achievements bore fruit in plans for around the world ‘upwind’ yacht race, rounding Cape Horn and across the Southern Ocean. These yachts were to be crewed by ordinary men and women who need not have a background in sailing.

Sir Chay Blyth and his associate Andy Roberts oversaw the design and construction of the two fleets of steel cutters forming the organisation ‘Challenge Business’, hence the yachts are referred to as Challenge 67s or Challenge 72s. The yachts took much from Sir Chay Blyth’s experience hence they are strong and powerful.

The first fleet comprised fourteen Challenge 67s designed by David Thomas and Thanos Condylis, where “Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong” was part of, identified as C28, a sail number she still wears today. Launched in 1991, she raced twice around the world from 1992 to 1993 (named “Commercial Union” and 1996 to 1997 (named “Concert”).

After the 1996 race, the fleet of Challenge 67s was retired to a training role and a new fleet of twelve Challenge 72s were built. C28 was kept busy as a training and corporate charter boat for the Challenge Business, covering many thousands of nautical miles around the UK and transatlantic voyages.
In 2002, C28 was sponsored by Invest Hong Kong and renamed “Spirit of Hong Kong” for a race across the Atlantic Ocean.
Outward Bound Hong Kong purchased C28 in 2004 and renamed her “Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong”.