When Bob’s family moved to beachside Mentone his parents saw a new opportunity to enjoy the beach; although neither of them sailed they purchased a Mirror dinghy to be the family sailing boat and so began Bob’s love of sailing.
He was about 11yo when the family first joined Parkdale Yacht Club. Bob sailed with his father at Parkdale and then crewed for a short time for PYC Life member, Anne Von Gizycki, in her Mirror dinghy.
Bob was 13yo when he purchased his first boat, a Sailfish, and his sailing prowess became quickly evident. He then went on to helm and crew Flying Ants with successful results at an early age.
Bob Ford and his father John
alongside their Mirror Dinghy at PYC
Grandpa supervising the boat
building at home
Checking the sail set in his
Inheriting his father’s passion for wood working Bob built his first dinghy, a Cherub, when he was 16yo in the family backyard under the supervision of his grandpa and the watchful eye of his father. He floated and balanced the Cherub in the neighbour’s swimming pool and then launched it at Parkdale Yacht Club where it sprung a leak which was promptly fixed. He went on to sell the boat sometime later and moved on to sail a NS14 skiff out of Chelsea Yacht Club in his late teens and early 20s.
Bob and his brother were lucky enough to go to New Guinea to stay with their uncle for a holiday when he was 15yo. He experienced some relaxed cruising in the tropical waters on a keel boat his uncle owned and was living on at the time. This was his first taste of keel boat sailing; and the seed was sown.
Not content to have his wife sit on the beach while the kids were sailing, Bob’s father purchased a windsurfer for her to join in on the water recreational fun. This windsurfer fostered Bob’s windsurfing pathway back when he was 16yo.
Bob became heavily involved in windsurfing and wave jumping during his 20s and was part of a pioneer group of wave jumpers who sailed at Phillip Island. He was then sponsored by Oke Surfboards and helped develop new shapes and concepts of boards for wave jumping.
But the lure of keel boats drew Bob to Sandringham Yacht Club in his mid 20s to 30s where he sailed on the infamous Bacardi and later, on Local Hero.
He has two Sydney to Hobart races under his belt and has sailed numerous times across Bass Strait including to Port Fairy, Launceston, Devonport, Stanley and King Island. Bob sailed competitively out of Sandringham Yacht Club in the local waters around the bay and also at Hamilton Race week. He has delivered many boats up and down the East coast, to and from race destinations.
Not content to sail only other people’s boats an opportunity arose and Bob purchased his first keel boat in the early 1990s, Etoile, (a Van De Stadt Sea Horse) with his wife Tam and introduced her to his love of sailing.
Bob wave jumping. Wowee!
On one of his many voyages across Bass Strait.
Bob and his wife Tam's first keel boat, Etoile at SYC
Not long after becoming a father Bob’s sailing career returned to its grass roots at Parkdale Yacht Club where he jumped back on the One Design Windsurfer and claimed Club Champion a number of times, then went on to be Club Champion in his Laser dinghy aptly named “Wheel Chair” due to the deteriorating health of his knees.
He fostered the joy of sailing in his two daughters when he taught them to sail in Minnows at Parkdale Yacht Club which he had lovingly spent many hours restoring to their utmost glory. He encouraged and supported their sailing pathways and made it possible for them to sail in many state and national titles. These sailing regattas became the basis of many cherished family holidays in Victoria and around Australia.
Bob’s commitment to Parkdale Yacht Club has come to the fore over the last 20 years. He has been a long term office bearer on the Committee, Commodore twice from 2005-08 and again in 2015-18 and is currently Vice Commodore. Bob organises the working bees at the Club and manages the maintenance of the Club building. He volunteers regularly as the Officer of the Day and oversees club racing and results. His wide sailing experience has evolved into a new role of Race Officer and he has officiated at a number of State and National titles held at the Club.
Bob’s building experience has been put to the test by keeping the old club building operational for so many years beyond its “Use by date”. But once it was obvious the building was not going to be viable for much longer Bob was instrumental in negotiating with Council firstly for our Club building to be renovated and then influencing the design and construction of our current new building. He worked tirelessly to ensure the new club building would be innovative and versatile so it would meet our current needs and future demands.
Bob’s roots in Parkdale Yacht Club are deeply entrenched, extending from his childhood to the present. He has made many life-long friends through the Club and his love of sailing. He continues to actively promote the community sailing spirit of Parkdale Yacht Club and believes the Club to be a valuable asset to the local community.
A life membership with Parkdale Yacht Club is well deserved and Bob is extremely proud to have received it.
Bob celebrating among his Sydney to Hobart
team members at the finish line in Hobart
Sailing his Windsurfer
Returning from the King Island race
Building a boat in his backyard shed
Floating the boat in the neighbours' pool
Congratulations to our very own Nick Bez, who has taken out the Australian Sailing National Sport Promotion category! His hard work, promoting the sport of windsurfing, has been recognised nationally at the Australian Sailing Awards.
Nick has an insatiable appetite for Windsurfing and has held the titles of World Champion, National Champion and State Champion and inputs an extrordinary energy into the growth and promotion of the Windsurfer community through his involvement in the Windsurfer Class Association of Australia (WCAA) and Parkdale Yacht Club. In particular, NIck has been recognised for the outcomes achieved from the 2022 Australian Windsurfer Class Championship held at yours truly in January this year, in which he established a large inventory of photo and video content for promotional use and strong social media engagement both locally and all over the world.
Nick Bez, we are very proud of you!
Australian Sailing National Sport Promotion Finalists
Paul is one of seven kids, all of whom were introduced to sailing at PYC to give their mother a well-earned break on weekends. With their continued involvement spanning many, many years in various roles, Paul's parents became stalwarts of PYC and eventually Life Members.
Paul was an eager participant in his family's developing interest in sailing and after learning the basics, he crewed a Flying Ant named 'Sheegwee' as a junior with his brother. During the off-season, this boat would be a permanent fixture in the lounge room for ongoing maintenance and numerous applications of varnish.
Over the years, Paul has gathered numerous sailing experiences and accomplishments and we, as a Club, are now the fortunate and thankful beneficiary of his wealth of knowledge. Some of Paul's most notable achievements include:
Paul has and still does an absolute truckload of work around PYC and continues to be the driving force of our Learn to Windsurf program. On the set up of our new Club, he was instrumental in the construction of storage racks downstairs and is a major contributor to the maintenance of our building, especially with anything electrical.
His Life Membership with Parkdale Yacht Club is well deserved and we are extremely grateful that Paul has continued the Grimshaw family's enormous contribution to our Club and followed in his parent's footsteps with his unwavering passion for PYC.
A heartfelt congratulations to you Paul.