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Southern Spars

Audi Hamilton Island Race week - Never too old

by Stephanie Hobbs on 21 Aug 2012
Wal Jorgensen and daughter April © Andrea Francolini / Audi http://www.afrancolini.com
An avid and very experienced sailor is taking to the high seas for his first Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

It may have taken more than eight decades and a long trip from the Swan River in Western Australia to be part of Australia’s premiere keelboat regatta, but it’s been well worth it.


At 82 years of age Wal Jorgensen is aboard Condor, a famous Australian IOR maxi which took line honours in the Sydney Hobart in the 1980s, with his family for Race Week. It’s his first time at Hamilton Island and he describes it as ‘like paradise’.

Jorgensen’s daughter April said for years she has also wanted to be part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. She joked this week that the family’s holidays are arranged to suit her father, adding ‘this year was a prime opportunity for him to go for a sail.'

Condor is a full-time charter boat, operated by Prosail Australia. Owner/skipper David Molloy is a regular at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and is chuffed that at 83 feet, Condor is the second largest boat behind Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI.

Molloy offered the experienced octogenarian an opportunity to make his mark at the helm steering the mighty Condor in light winds last Saturday, the opening day of Race Week.

Jorgensen usually sails once a week in his hometown on the opposite side of the country on his 63 footer so he’s used to big boat sailing, but hasn’t steered anything as sizeable as Condor. He admits it was ‘certainly a good learning experience’.

The World War II veteran sailed for years before being sent to war. After returning he took 20 years off to build a house and raise a family before making his sailing comeback.

This week he’s soaking up the atmosphere of Race Week and Hamilton Island and after a long day on the water amazingly still has enough energy to enjoy some of the après racing events.

‘For me this week is as much about the camaraderie, and the feeling is out of this world' Jorgensen concluded.

All information relating to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 is on the regatta website
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