Sydney-Hobart Report: Seeking Advice from Aussie Legend

On the eve of his biggest sailing adventure, Dennis Perkins gets some insight and inpsiration from an Aussie sailing legend.

December 27, 2006

Hobart Start 1

Daniel Forster/rolex

Wow, it’s now Saturday…Christmas Eve! Hard to believe that almost a week has gone by since my last entry. I guess I’ve been pretty remiss in my blogging, but I haven’t been idle.

Monday night, Eddo and I had dinner with the remarkable John Walker. John, who turned 84 this year, will skipper his yacht Impeccable for his 23rd race to Hobart, which will equal the record for “oldest skipper” set by Alby Burgin in 2000 on Alstar.

On the advice of his cardiologist, John skipped the S2H Race the year he had a triple bypass. That year, he decided to do a somewhat less challenging race.


Our conversation ranged from sailing stories to my greatest interests: leadership, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. John shared insights from his remarkable life, which included surviving over 3 years in Auschwitz, the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, and a journey to Australia where he is now CEO of a timber company.

We could have talked all night, but John had to leave to attend a retirement party. The event was being held for someone John had hired 12 years ago, thinking this individual would be his replacement!

John Walker is truly one of the most charming, thoughtful, and kind individuals I have ever met. An inspiration-and a fitting role model for me as I prepare to embark on my first S2H tomorrow. I’m not sure what this race has in store for me, but already the experience has enabled me to meet some amazing people.


That’s all for now. Tomorrow is the start of the race, so I’ll be back in touch after I arrive in Hobart.


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