On February 4, 2020, James Prascevic completed the first solo Tasman crossing from Sydney to Auckland recorded by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, setting an initial benchmark time of 12 days 14 hours 41 minutes and 15 seconds.
Prascevic is no stranger to a challenge. He was medically discharged by the army almost a decade ago after developing PTSD and battling with mental health, and found comfort out on the open ocean.
"I moved back to my hometown in Lorne and I bought 4.5 metre fishing boat to go offshore fishing. It is peaceful out on the water," Prascevic said. "I decided I wanted to put my energy into raising awareness for depression and anxiety by doing a challenge."
In 2012, Prascevic set out on his tinny to cross Bass Strait to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute. Following that successful campaign, he put his mind to sailing the world's toughest oceans.
"When I got back from my Tassie trip, I started doing my Yachtmaster course. It was the first time I had been a yacht since I was young."
Since then Prascevic has competed in the 2014 Sydney Hobart, as well as racing in regattas up and down the east coast. To prepare to cross the Tasman, Prascevic went out on Port Phillip for days, and spent time sailing solo in Bass Strait, where it regularly reached 35 knots.
After two years of preparation on his 40-foot sailing yacht Joey, including extensive refit work, Prascevic set off from Sydney on January 22.
"It was a great sense of relief to get going, after so much preparation. Crossing the start line across Sydney heads was the most rewarding part of the trip," he said.
"I left during a low-pressure system which came across the Tasman. The seas were ridiculously messy, and it was blowing 30 knots.
"I was making good time until day seven. I was 100-nautical miles off the coast of New Zealand when I was becalmed for four-and-half days. It was painful.
"The fresh food had run out by day six, and for the remainder of the journey I was living off noodles and Weetbix," he said.
"The original goal was to post a respectable record. But it got to the point where I was questioning whether I would even finish. I broke down a couple of times thinking: after all the effort and money I've put in over the years, am I going come up short by 100 miles?"
Perseverance pulled him through those dark times, and he gained a renewed sense of optimism.
"There was never a point where I was saying I was going to give up. I was holding on for hope that low pressure system would get me there. All I wanted was wind. Eventually the pressure built up and I was able to make it in with a new record."
"With everything going on, hopefully I can hold on to the record for a bit longer than I expected," he joked.
Prascevic wants to raise awareness for mental health, with the goal to become motivational speaker.
His advice to people struggling with mental illness is to keep perspective.
"Keep pursuing your goals. Break it down in small pieces, and just take it day by day."
Jack O'Rourke is a contributor to Ocean Media
New Zealand aluminium boat builder Stabicraft has announced the launch of its Stabicraft 1450 Series.
The 4.5-metre vessel range will have a reimagined layout, making optimal use of space and ergonomics within the boat to accommodate a larger internal volume and forward seating. Upgrades include thicker pontoons and floor, additional rod holders, cleats and Stabicraft's Multiholders. The 1450 will be offered in three different packages, allowing it to suit more people and types of boating.
Stabicraft founder Paul Adams is confident the new model will "redefine the compact boat market."
Riviera is launching a virtual boat show featuring a limited selection of new, state-of-the-art Riviera and Belize motor yachts that will be available in the near future.
Riviera also is offering online inspections of their range through a variety of options, including a personal virtual tour via Face Time or Skype, email or in person if possible.
The move is in response to people eager to go boating as soon as possible.
"At Riviera, we are seeing a real desire for family and friends wanting to get back on the water as soon as they can," Riviera owner Rodney Longhurst said.