Wa­ter­front

Alex Luther went to great lengths— 2,219 miles to be ex­act—to chase his grand­fa­ther’s wa­ter­ski­ing legacy.

Power & Motor Yacht - - IN THIS ISSUE -

Alex Luther wanted to recre­ate his grand­fa­ther’s world-record wa­ter­ski­ing at­tempt. But first he had to learn how to wa­ter­ski.

Five years ago, Alex Luther didn’t know how to wa­ter­ski. But things change. On July 5, the 36-year-old Aus­tralian grand­son of world-record-set­ting wa­ter­skier Harry Luther suc­cess­fully repli­cated his grand­fa­ther’s route along the Mediter­ranean coast from Tang­iers, Morocco, to Pula, Croa­tia. The 10-day, 2,219-mile ski in­cluded stops at 22 ports in seven countries.

Harry dis­cov­ered the sport in the 1960s, and from the be­gin­ning he was a nat­u­ral. Nick­named “Can­guro” (Ital­ian for kan­ga­roo), he went on to win nearly ev­ery long-dis­tance race he en­tered. Pulled be­hind his 17-foot Pride Fury that was fondly named Miss Pepsi (Harry was a de­liv­ery driver for Pepsi), in 1970 he skied 3,144 miles of the Mediter­ranean in 10 days as a “warm-up” for another race. Hardly a warm-up, it be­came the world record for marathon wa­ter­ski­ing.

Alex’s recre­ation of his grand­fa­ther’s jour­ney was in­spired by a fam­ily scrap­book doc­u­ment­ing Harry’s love for the sport. Its pages brim with tele­grams, news­pa­per ar­ti­cles and pho­tos of Harry’s brief yet il­lus­tri­ous wa­ter­ski­ing ca­reer. “He kept it for a rea­son—he wanted to share it with peo­ple,” says Alex. But he never got the chance. Harry passed away in a cy­cling ac­ci­dent when Alex was just 7 years old.

Alex, who runs his own fi­nance com­pany, wanted to chase his grand­fa­ther’s legacy and tell his story. “Once I got the idea in my head, it just stuck and I didn’t let go,” he says. First, he had to over­come a mi­nor hur­dle: learn­ing to wa­ter­ski.

Sur­pris­ingly, he wasn’t wor­ried about that part. “I was more wor­ried about whether I was go­ing to be able to last the

dis­tance,” he says. For seven—yes, seven—years he woke up ev­ery day and fo­cused on some as­pect of the goal, whether it was train­ing in the frigid Syd­ney Har­bour, co­or­di­nat­ing lo­gis­tics, map­ping or plan­ning the re­con trip. “It’s been such a mas­sive part of my life,” he says, with a hint of sad­ness now that it’s over.

His train­ing came in handy when, on day four of the chal­lenge, he en­coun­tered rough seas be­tween Barcelona and Monaco. Swells reached 16 feet, test­ing him both phys­i­cally and men­tally. “I thought, I don’t know whether we’re go­ing to be able to do this,” he says. He was be­ing pulled be­hind an Ax­opar 37 Sun-Top with twin 300-hp Mer­cury Ver­a­dos, and rough seas meant the boat was mov­ing slower than planned and us­ing more fuel.

Af­ter tak­ing a brief break, he jumped up and screamed at the ocean, “I’ve got to get to Monaco!” For the next six hours, he pushed his body and mind be­yond any­thing he thought pos­si­ble. He logged 347 miles over the course of 11 hours that day.

The ef­fort paid off: Upon ar­riv­ing in Monaco, he was greeted by H.S.H. Prince Al­bert II. The Prin­ci­pal­ity of Monaco had sup­ported Alex’s jour­ney from the start, just as it had his grand­fa­ther’s. With the Prince’s back­ing, Alex had se­cured spon­sors Ax­opar and Mer­cury. “Ev­ery­thing fell into place for the right rea­sons with the right peo­ple at the right time,” he says.

Af­ter seven years of plan­ning and 10 in­tense days on the wa­ter, Alex has mixed emo­tions now that the ad­ven­ture is be­hind him. “I feel lost, but at the same time I feel ec­static that I was able to ac­com­plish some­thing I set out to achieve so long ago,” he says. He plans to go for a so­cial ski when he gets back home to Aus­tralia. “I’m a lit­tle bit bored now,” he laughs. “I’m not one that can sit still very eas­ily.”

He hopes his jour­ney will in­spire oth­ers with lofty dreams. “Just go out there and try it,” he says. “Don’t ever let go of [your dream]. Keep go­ing and keep go­ing.” —Krista Karl­son

In 1969, Mer­cury pro­vided Harry Luther with twin 100-hp en­gines to put on his boat Miss Pepsi, the first twin rig boat to com­pete in wa­ter­ski rac­ing in Aus­tralia. Nearly 50 years later, Mer­cury sup­plied Alex Luther with twin Ver­ado 300-hp V8 en­gines to help recre­ate his grand­fa­ther’s achieve­ment.

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