South Australia, KA-8

South Australia (KA-8), sailing at Porquerolles Regatta-June 2023, photos courtesy Christophe Babule

Built in 1985 according to the International Third Rule- America’s Cup.

Designed by Ben Lexcen, and built in 1985, South Australia (KA-8) was as one of Australia’s six would-be America’s Cup defenders for the 1987 Perth match-up.


1985: Built according to the International Third Rule- America’s Cup. Designed by Ben Lexcen, South Australia (KA-8) was one of Australia’s six would-be America’s Cup defenders for the 1987 Perth match-up. The Southern Australian Challenge for the Defence of the 1987 America’s Cup was initiated by Adelaide advertising executive Roger Llloyd and funded by 150 sponsors and a $1 million subsidy from the South Australian government.

Although Lexcen was under the exclusive employ of Alan Bond’s defender syndicate for whom he had designed: Australia II (KA-5), Australia III (KA-6) and later Australia IV (KA-9), a seemingly unlikely deal was struck…

Bond suggested that Lexcen design the South Australian syndicate’s boat (KA-8) in exchange for $600,000 and opportunity for the crews to train together. This was not an altogether altruistic or patriotic offer on Bond’s part, rather it created a distinct strategic advantage for his syndicate. Through work on KA-8, Lexcen would continue development of Australia III (KA-9) at no cost to Bond. When completed, KA-8 was contractually obligated to test and train exclusively with the Australia syndicate for a time— deliberately depriving the Kookaburra syndicate of any testing competition.

Ben Lexcen acknowledged that KA-8 was a virtual sistership to Australia III (KA-9), both above and below the water line. South Australia’s Sailing Director, Sir James Hardy said she was a “potentially great boat… I think she is going to be a real goer.

At the time it was thought that KA-8 was very quick in light air, but her results were a disappointing 8th place at the 12mR Worlds. Despite late-campaign modifications including a keel-swap to improve her heavy air performance she was eliminated from the trials, in part thanks to the infamous “Fremantle Doctor.”

Waves driven by 28-knot winds knocked boats around like punching bags, swept over decks and forced people to hang on for their lives in the America’s Cup trials…

—Rich Roberts, LA Times Staff Reporter, December 4, 1986

1993-1998: Renamed New Sweden and registered with the Stemungsbaden Yacht Club (SWE).

1998-2004: New Ownership: South Australia (GB) Ltd., Elisabeth Marlin
Homeport: Saint Tropez (FRA)
Original name re-adopted South Australia

2001: Russell Coutts sailed KA-8 to victory in the Grand Prix division at the 2001 America’s Cup Jubilee / 12mR World Championship at Cowes (UK).

2005: New Ownership: S.F.A. Jean-Claude Perdriel
Homeport: Antibes (FRA)

2007: KA-8 underwent a refit under the supervision of Jacques Fauroux—she was fitted with a newly designed rudder as well as a new keel, cockpit, winches, carbon boom and 3DL North Sails.

2023: South Australia (KA-8) rejoined the 12mR fleet on the race course at the Porquerolles Classic under the new ownership of Christophe Babule, who also owns French Kiss (F-7). He reported:

“I am pleased to inform you that I am the happy new owner of South Australia. The boat is now in Nice (FRA), and therefore French Kiss has a sister ship to compete with! We rushed to do a quick refit… in time to sail at the Porquerolles regatta, in the Med.”


Sail Number KA-8
International Rule THIRD Rule-AC
Year Built 1985
Designer Ben Lexcen
Builder Steve E. Ward & Co.
First Owner South Australia Challenge for the Defense 1987, Ltd.
First Name South Australia
First Sail Number KA-8
First Country Australia
Original Homeport Port Adelaide
Other Names New Sweden (1988)
Current Status / Condition sailing
Current Owner Christophe Babule
Current Location Nice, France
Current Division Grand Prix
Construction Aluminum alloy
Length Overall 19.51 m.
Length Waterline 13.40 m.
Beam 3.60 m.
Draft 2.63 m.
Sail Area 179.5 m.
Displacement 24.32 t.