Race Week has Spirit

Whitsunday Times - - ON THE WATER -

FOR­MER Whit­sun­day lo­cal Ja­son Gard has re­turned to the re­gion aboard his Merfyn Owen-de­signed tri­maran Spirit, which is cur­rently cut­ting an im­pres­sive sight at the Abell Point Ma­rina Air­lie Beach Race Week.

Gard first came to the Whit­sun­days as a 13-year-old aboard his par­ents’ cruis­ing yacht. He re­turned in 1997 and spent a year liv­ing in the re­gion and work­ing for the char­ter com­pany Pro­sail.

Fol­low­ing the lure of dis­tant hori­zons Gard took off to Europe to work on su­pery­achts be­fore de­cid­ing to buy Spirit in the United States.

The 43ft long tri­maran was launched in 1993 and is made of strip-plank cedar. Her mast is a 60ft high car­bon fi­bre ro­tat­ing wing.

Gard spent a cou­ple of years work­ing on the boat in the US be­fore set­ting out on a Pa­cific Ocean cross­ing that took him to the Gala­pa­gos, French Poly­ne­sia, Tonga and Fiji.

Spirit ar­rived in Aus­tralia at Bris­bane just be­fore Christ­mas last year and af­ter com­plet­ing the Bris­bane-Glad­stone yacht race with a Whit­sun­day crew aboard, is now happily sail­ing in Air­lie Beach.

“I al­ways wanted to come back – it’s a dream to sail back here,” Gard said.

“It feels like home be­cause it’s where my par­ents now live and a lot of close friends from the Pro­sail days.”

Sail­ing with Gard is 15-year-old Whit­sun­day sailor Dan Townsend.

Gard said his youngest crewmem­ber was sim­ply “great”.

“He’s full of beans, very keen and works re­ally hard to get ev­ery­thing out of the boat.”

By the halfway point of the re­gatta Spirit was sec­ond in its di­vi­sion, which Gard said was “un­be­liev­able”.

RIS­ING TAL­ENT: Ju­nior sailor Dan Townsend is sail­ing with skip­per Ja­son Gard aboard the mul­ti­hull Spirit in the 24th an­nual Air­lie Beach Race Week. Photo by Shirley Wod­son.

SPIRIT: For­mer Whit­sun­day res­i­dent Ja­son Gard is back in Air­lie Beach to cam­paign his mul­ti­hull Spirit at Air­lie Beach Race Week.

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