When a young Christophe Vanek went to Newport Rhode Island with the French Navy to compete in the 1983 America’s Cup on France 3, he had no idea that one race would change the course of his life. Because Australia won the challenge that year - he followed the event out to Fremantle, Australia in 1987 and has basically been in Australia ever since.
Vanek, Dubai to Muscat Yacht Race Winner
Growing up in Brittany gave him the skills and passion for the sport of sailing and he says, 'Sailing is for everyone, at all levels. You can start at any age and it offers something for anyone who wants to get involved. If you don’t want to challenge yourself too much you can just pull down the sails, drop the anchor and relax.'
This competitive Frenchman developed the taste for racing from a young age and has competed in many major international regattas including three America’s Cup , 10 Sydney to Hobart’s, five China Cups, many World Championships, all the classics around Australia and four Dubai to Muscat races in the Middle East (he holds the record for winning four times). He was named 2007 ‘Personality of the Year’ by the Boating Industry in the Middle East and is now living in Airlie Beach and promoting the Whitsundays to the world.
Besides his extraordinary experience in racing, Christophe is General Manager of Queensland Yacht Charters, a division of Dream Yacht Charter, the second largest yacht charter company in the world. He says, 'The bareboat industry in Australia is very good. Europeans who come here think it is the best sailing location in the world and the quality of service with bareboat companies in the Whitsundays is the best.' Queensland Yacht Charters has a great local team with worldwide experience in marketing the Whitsundays as well as maintaining a fleet of 27 vessels.
Christophe enjoys the sailing conditions in the Whitsundays and says the normal 15-20 knots of SE breeze is ideal for racing. Now a sail trimmer and tactician, Christophe says, 'I did the hard work as bowman when I was younger and now I’m at the back of the boat but sailing is the ultimate team sport and it takes all the crew to make the boat go fast.' Christophe has competed on Another Fiasco in the past two years and is looking forward to his third Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week and says, 'When I smell the smoke of the gun, I want to win. If it’s a race you do your best to win. If I am cruising, on the other hand, I switch off completely and relax.'
Whether you are cruising or racing, the Whitsundays attracts people from all over the world and regattas like Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week are an annual celebration of all that is great about the sport of sailing in a beautiful tropical location.