Life on the high seas

WHEN Fremantle yacht Walk on the Wild Side took line honours in this year’s Freo to Bali race, local Tony Bewsher was part of the crew.

And when the boat pipped the field for overall line honours in the Ambon to Darwin race a couple of months later, he was there again.

Bewsher, the owner of Vicsail Yachts on South Terrace, had originally pursued a career in banking, but it didn’t last long, and he was bitten by the yachting bug in the early 1970s, aged 20.

“I had always been in the financial side of things, which I didn’t like, but I decided I loved this new sport I was in,” he says.

Bewsher chucked the banker’s lamp in the bin and got a job behind the counter at Tropical Traders on Queen Victoria Street, one of Perth’s biggest marine providers at the time.

It wasn’t long before his hard work, can-do attitude and boating knowledge secured him managerial work in the boat-building industry.

He ended up specialising in oil rig life boats, purely by chance, after one came in for a rush repair.

• Tony Bewsher. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

“We worked for three days non-stop,” he says.

“Everybody was hands-on, even management. I drove a fork lift.”

The next step in what would be a long career began, and Mr Bewsher was sent across the globe to train people on everything to do with life boats, including the davit system that raises and lower them.

Eventually he was the company’s Asia managing director, living in Singapore with his wife and two daughters, and was also rear commodore of the Changi Yacht Club.

More than 40 years later, Mr Bewsher looks back on a high-powered career and the famous yacht races he took part in.

“I’ve done Cowes Week six times, the Fastnet and English channel,” he says.

The Sydney to Hobart is the one that got away.

“I was always travelling with my job so there was no way in the world I was allowed to be away for Christmas,” Mr Bewsher says.

Back in Australia in 2003, a career shift saw the Ardross local specialise in marine brokerage for yachts.

“It’s like real estate on the water,” Mr Bewsher says.

Yachts are sold on commission internationally, including some in Europe that are registered in Fremantle, but have never been to the port city. Prices range from $600,000 down to $30,000.

by JENNY D’ANGER

Vicsails Yachts
177 South Terrace, Fremantle
9336 5533

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