EX-WHITSUNDAY resident Paul Larsen officially smashed the world speed sailing record in Namibia last week, amazing sailing enthusiasts around the world.
Larsen sailed into history, hitting speeds of 68.01knots, or about 126km per hour in his Vesta Sailrocket, an incredibly dynamic sail boat especially designed for speed sailing and breaking records.
Larsen lived and worked in the region from 1994-99, working at Marlin Marine and Hayman and Hamilton Island.
While he always had a passion for sailing, his time in the Whitsundays helped him get direction as he 'immersed himself in sailing'.
"It was while working for Sunsail on Hamilton Island that I came into contact with the 86' French multihull Commodore Explorer. I did whatever it took to get on that boat and four of us delivered it to Yokohama (Japan). It was an amazing experience." Larsen said.
He raced in many different regattas in the area, including the Hobie Cat World Titles in 1998 on his Hobie 16.
Long-time friend Dave Chittleborough has many fond memories of Larsen, adding that "he always wanted to go fast."
"What he's done is incredible," Chittleborough said.
"He was always an intense guy who had lots of crazy ideas. He was one of the nicest guys you could meet. He was mad-keen for multihulls"
Since then Larsen has achieved a lot in the racing and speed sailing world.
"He has taken speed sailing to a new level, to maintain control of that boat while going so fast is just amazing," Chittleborough said.
When asked his thoughts about living here, Larsen said that it had to be something pretty amazing to keep him away from the Whitsundays.
"Fortunately sailing in Europe has proven to be a great distraction and I have been encouraged to follow my dreams. I have so many truly great friends and memories from my time there. I am so happy that they are following my journey," he said.
"I will definitely go back there [Airlie Beach]. Some of my happiest memories were the simple joys of cruising around the islands on a Hobie 16 with a mate."
Larsen plans to continue to visit the Whitsundays when he is back in the country.