A Beneteau named Hugo

Emir Ruzdic is unable to sleep at night at the moment. There’s an excitement inside him that’s getting hard to contain. He spends his days and nights reading, researching, learning, watching sailing racing and growing …

because in just a few short months, Emir and his partner Xin are getting ready to pick up their newly commissioned 41.1P from the Beneteau factory in France and take a trip of a lifetime – 18 months aboard a Beneteau Oceanis 41.1P named Hugo.

So the sleepless nights are inevitable.

Where it all began

Emir had an idyllic childhood, spending summers in a beach house on an Island in Croatia. He was close to the sea, and it was part of who he was.

“We’d spend the whole summer on that island – my love for the water was embedded in me from a very young age. We had a boat and Dad would take us out spear fishing; it was a happy time in our lives.”

But his father had a bigger dream – a dream to live in Australia … and after three failed immigration applications, the fourth was a success, and at 14 Emir moved with his family to the lucky country …

…and his love affair with the sea continued.

“My first boat was a $20 inflatable Kmart boat that we took to the surf and destroyed in one surf. I got into kayaking … and then I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have an engine?

I got a jet boat. Then I bought a second hand Thundercat. It was crazy and dangerous. I couldn’t control it on my own. I loved it – but it started breaking down. So I bought a brand new one. Put a $2000 deposit down. I wanted it before summer, but it didn’t arrive.”

As luck would have it, Emir was driving past Concord Sailing Club and noticed a sign. ‘Free sailing. Come along and try.’ He stopped the car – too late for the free lessons that day, but signed up for a 10 day Learn to Sail course.

He was absolutely hooked. “As soon as I jumped onto the boat, I felt peaceful and quiet, and I thought wow, this is amazing. And I thought, I want a sailboat – I don’t want a cat anymore. I forfeited my deposit and I walked into the Flagstaff office – met Micah, and it was the quickest sale he’d ever made.”

Friendship, mateship and nautical miles

“I didn’t know anything about sailing at that point … but I thought that buying a new boat was my best bet. I walked into the office and said to Micah, ‘Who wants to sell me a boat?’ He said, ‘New or second hand?'”

Emir told him what he wanted, and he was given a list of options. Top of the list was the baby of the Beneteau brand – the 21. He bought it … and that’s where the relationship with Micah, and Flagstaff, was born.

Theirs is a relationship that has moved beyond business and into a friendship.

“And the guy can sail,” Emir says. He’d know, having spent countless hours on the water with Micah since that meeting in 2011.

Micah introduced Emir to a brand new world … racing. Emir was hooked, and within two short years he was racing a TP52 with some of the best racing crew in the country.

Why Beneteau?

Emir had some requirements that were not negotiable. He wanted the performance, but he wanted a boat that was comfortable and he could spend the night on. There was nothing on the market for the kind of money he had at the time. After much research, he was beginning to understand the different sailing brands … and he liked the Beneteau brand, the philosophy and the quality. He liked it a lot.

“I still believe there is no better boat for the bay than the Beneteau 21. It had a lifting keel, it was easy to handle and had plenty of space outside and sleeping accommodation. It was low maintenance, with no elaborate water and electrical systems. It had everything we needed.”

Sailing the 21 on New Year’s Eve in Cronulla in 2011, Emir couldn’t have imagined what he would be doing a few short years later …

A boat dreams are made of

Buying the 41.1P took a little longer than buying the 21. Where the Beneteau 21 took 10 minutes, the 41.1P took the best part of three years.

“It’s such a unique boat … when you peel the layers off all the boats in the 40ft category, Beneteau has such a unique offering. You either have to choose a cruiser/racer, or a cruiser. There was no cruiser that was fast … if you want performance, you have to go down the cruiser/racer path, but you don’t get the bimini or wide hull.

With the 41.1 you get a great cruising boat that has exceptional performance … a boat that still holds itself up around the cans and around racing trails.

I saw the 41.1P and I thought wow, this is perfect. This is a boat. I took a test sail … even though I knew it was a long-term plan.

Beneteau have been very clever with space and this was important to us – the bedroom has the wow factor – double doors that open up the front bedroom – it’s a very clever way of making you feel like there’s space.”

Support from every corner of the ocean

Emir and partner Xin chose to sail a Beneteau around the world for a few reasons …

“Beneteau, as a brand, is compatible with what we think … and the way Micah portrays and represents the brand is compatible with our beliefs.”

Because it goes beyond simply buying a boat. Emir says, “That’s the easy part. It’s everything else that goes after it.

The kicker has always been, and always will be, the after sales support provided by Flagstaff and Beneteau. On board needs a range from a safety kit, spinnaker pole … and the list goes on. Micah and the Flagstaff team have been there every step of the way making sure the preparation for this dream trip is perfect.”

Alongside Beneteau team members in France, Micah will be there when Emir picks up ‘Hugo’ from the factory.

Take me to the April Sun in … France

Emir is picking up Hugo in April and doing a quick sail into the Med where Xin will be waiting to jump on. She’s not a seasoned sailor, and Emir doesn’t want to expose her to off-shore sailing so quickly it will turn her off.

Sailing around the world is a dream many of us have, but few experience.  Emir and Xin will sail from May – October in the Mediterranean, spending a month in each country: Spain, France, Italy, Greece … and yes, they’re heading back to their beach house on that island in Croatia. Emir’s family still spend each summer there.

Exhilaration – a race across the Atlantic

“We then go to the Canary Islands and get ready for the Arc Rally – an event where we race across the Atlantic Ocean. My TP52 skipper Adrian is flying in with his partner and the four of us will be competing.”

Anyone can do this – We’re going to show you how

What Emir appreciates about Beneteau and Flagstaff is their support. He says that they transfer their knowledge and experience to people who aren’t sure. And he’d know – after all, he’s only been sailing since 2011.

Emir is confident on a sailboat now and has made it his mission to transfer his knowledge and create a community and help others fulfil their dreams.

“Xin is very adventurous but she’s not a sailor… and this is part of the theme that we’re thinking about for the blog. You don’t have to be a hard core sailor to do this. Each day we’ll be talking about the challenges we face, solutions we’ve found, and we’ll be transferring our knowledge and experience to you.”

SAILING HUGO is the name of their YouTube Channel and there will also a FB Page, Twitter and Insta feed coming.  It won’t be your average iPhone/iMovie cuts … Emir and Xin have invested in $4000 dollars worth of camera gear, drones, editing equipment and underwater cameras.

Flagstaff are excited to be part of this journey and we’ll be following it every nautical mile.

SAILING HUGO is going to help make the idea become a reality for many people.

And stay tuned … we’ll tell you how an Oceanis 41.1P came to be called Hugo, next time.

Please contact us for information on the Beneteau Oceanis 41.1P, and see our other boat owner stories.