Paul WilsonThe announcement of the Whittley 660 as the Boat of the Year for 2003 at the recent Sanctuary Cove Boat Show came as quite a surprise to some. In an industry where there has been a gradual take-over of manufacturers by large corporations or shareholder driven multi-nationals, to have one of the few remaining family-owned Australian boat manufacturers produce a boat crowned Boat of the Year, is an achievement of some magnitude.

As you will read in greater detail further on in the magazine, the Whittley 660 was a standout winner.

The company was founded by Jim Whittley exactly 50 years ago, and is now run by his sons Neville and Steve. The win is a fitting tribute to what has become a boating brand synonymous with quality build and value for money.

For me, I have always been very impressed with just how much you get when you buy a Whittley. They truly are small cruisers, packing real cooking, dining and sleeping accommodation into boat lengths that would normally struggle to achieve this, let alone achieve it so well without the boat feeling crowded or cluttered.

So congratulations Jim, Neville and Steve, I only hope there is a third and hopefully many more generations of Whittley’s prepared to carry on the family tradition of unique quality boat building.

On a totally different subject, in a decision that could have national implications, the Victorian State Coroner, Graeme Johnstone, has called for the compulsory wearing of personal floatation devices (PFD’s) during the inquiry into the death of yachtsman Lindsay Dack, who drowned after being accidentally thrown overboard during a major yacht race on Port Phillip Bay in December 2000.

Lindsay was not wearing a life jacket when the yacht he was on was knocked down twice in rapid succession, and although he was described as a fit and strong swimmer, the Coroner believes that had he been wearing a personal floatation device he would have survived.

This is a very emotive issue, but the facts are fairly obvious, if you’re wearing a PFD your chances of survival are many times greater than if you aren’t. It really is only commonsense.

In a future issue we will look at and ‘road test’ the various PFDs available in Australia. Stay tuned for what could be a life saving exercise.

As always at this time of year, the major state boat shows are about to commence. Get along and support them, they are a great opportunity to see virtually all things marine under one roof. Who knows, the Whittley 660 might just turn your head as it did the judges of this year’s Boat of the Year Awards.

Also in this issue, we explain the language of dolphins, pay tribute to the Boston Whaler, cruise the Hawkesbury River on a Bayliner 305, wrap up the Melbourne-Osaka Yacht Race and Warren Steptoe looks at the weirdest lures of them all - spinnerbaits.

Enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority.

Paul Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Club Marine Ltd.