Blink and you'll miss him Posted by Reef Magazine - 11 October 2013 Where did you grow up? PAUL LARSEN: Healesville, Victoria, until I drove out of there at 21. It was a country upbringing. First introduction to water? PAUL LARSEN: Swimming in the muddy dams with the ducks, that’s how we cooled off in the stinking hot summers. I started building boats out of margarine lids and sticks… amazing to think that time spent culminated in Vestas Sailrocket 2. When did you know you wanted to break records? PAUL LARSEN: It was a slow realisation. I would watch from afar, but I wasn’t moving in those circles. When I got to Europe I kept chasing the fastest rides until we broke the 24-hour world record in 2002. I realised that if I wanted to take sailing faster - then the road stopped there - and so I began to move away from conventional pro yachting and put all my efforts into turning this dream of speed into reality. Favourite country? PAUL LARSEN: Australia but If you are going to stay away for a long time you have to make out your country’s not that good. Every time I head back to Europe I’m aware I’m kidding myself. Namibia, where we do the speed records, is another amazing place, huge open spaces with all the African wildlife. How hard is it for helena to accept the risks? PAUL LARSEN: When the boat started crashing and I ended up in hospital in 2009, to see the person you love beside the bed crying makes you realise it’s a very selfish endeavour, but it was my obsession and I was happy to take the hit. Sailrocket was built for Helena to also chase records, maybe she will one day. I know I won’t like standing on the beach watching. Worst accident? PAUL LARSEN: When the boat folded in 2009 going for the nautical mile world record on Friday the 13th in Namibia. I got knocked out and cut up, what was scarier was how quickly it went out of my hands, an inch the other way and I could have been killed. How hard was it to return? PAUL LARSEN: I was waiting for the Maverick moment when I would shy away from the challenge. It didn’t come. By missing a small detail I felt I’d let the boat and everyone down so there was a huge obligation to set it right. Describe the feeling when you broke the record. PAUL LARSEN: I felt hugely relieved that I had delivered on the promise to everyone who had backed me; it was an enormous pressure off my shoulders. Has life changed? PAUL LARSEN: The morning after the record I looked in the mirror and it was like looking at another person looking back smiling and saying “Respect. You made it here”. Trying to show off to your mates is how it starts; in the end it becomes very personal. You worked in watersports and charters on Hamilton Island in the 1990s, What was your first impression during this visit? PAUL LARSEN: To be honest I was nervous about coming back. The island was always beautiful but it needed some polish. It’s amazing what the custodians, the Oatley family, have done. Did you enjoy this Audi Hamilton Island Race Week? PAUL LARSEN: The speed record community has been on the fringe so to come to a more conventional regatta and be acknowledged was pretty cool. What’s next? PAUL LARSEN: Sailrocket has a lot more up its sleeve. In the meantime we’ll try and use the concepts we’ve developed in a more practical way. I feel that we can make similar jumps in performance in other areas of sailing. I don’t feel a huge desire to go back to pure speed sailing, but when someone does threaten the record I’ll probably become a little protective. About the Author 'REEF Magazine – Hamilton Island & the Great Barrier Reef' is a magazine that showcases all that Hamilton Island has to offer, from events, to an exciting array of activities, attractions and more. You can pick up your complimentary copy of 'REEF Magazine' at any Hamilton Island hotel, and you can also access some of our feature articles right here on The Island Blog.