NAVIGATING around Freo’s Yacht Grot, the passion for sailing is palpable, with oceans of boating memorabilia and ornaments adorning the walls.
The boating store was established in 1985 as a passion project for Trevor Richards.
Inspired by Australia’s monumental America’s Cup victory in 1983, he gave up his computing day job in Perth and set sail for Brisbane.
“When I was fixing computers I used to read old yachting magazines,” Richards recalls.
“One day I decided to leave computing and started sailing straight away.”
On his return to Fremantle, Richards sold his 29ft yacht to fund his new business venture— selling second-hand boat supplies.
He says selling used gear was not “keeping me alive,” but he thought he’d give it a go for a year, to see where the business took him.
“Fremantle was the natural place to start this business…there has always been a strong sailing presence around this area,” he says.
In an astute move, he relocated the business to an old warehouse on Queen Victoria Street just before Fremantle hosted the defence of the America’s Cup in 1987.
“Freo was crazy…it was going off,” he recalls.
Richards says the yachting industry is now awash with cash, but it wasn’t always like that: “there were no skippers with credit cards back in the day… now we have skippers with $20 million boats who spend about a million a year on them.”
Richards says people come from all over Australia to shop at Yacht Grot, and his customers include Crown Perth which owns the $40m super-yacht Infinity.
Although extremely busy running the store, Richards says he still finds time to get out on the water and indulge his original passion—sailing.
by JONATHAN CUNNINGHAM
57 Queen Victoria St, Fremantle