Shane Crookshanks

Shane Crookshanks

Commissioning and Technical Support

It’s a bit of an understatement to say Shane Crookshanks knows boats. Let’s start with his numbers – because they are truly impressive: in almost 25 years he has commissioned over 700 yachts. And that doesn’t include the powerboats and catamarans. So right now, it’s probably safe to say he’s worked on over 1000 boats … and counting.

Then there are the hours he’s spent on the water sailing in world class races like the Sydney to Hobart and the FARR 40 circuit. Add it all up, and the sum of so many hours is a depth of knowledge and a breadth of expertise that make him invaluable to the Flagstaff team.

But it’s Shane who counts himself as the lucky one, “Every day I go to work happy and ready to go,” he says. “There’s always the excitement of what the day brings … plus I just basically enjoy being on boats.”

Shane started working on Beneteau boats back in 1995, when he was still at university studying computer science. What was supposed to be a six-month job, helping to start up a new business, became a fulfilling career and the beginning of a new passion – sailing.

“I never sailed as a kid; I was always involved in the beach and things like that. When I moved to Sydney I took myself on a sailing school course … I taught myself how to sail, crewed on a lot of yachts. Since then I’ve done a lot of great sailing, a lot of international sailing … so you know the hobby becomes your job.”

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)

A day in the life of Shane

A day in the life of Shane

There’s no such thing as a normal day for Shane – every day is different. And that’s hardly surprising when you’re busy commissioning around thirty boats a year ranging from luxurious cruisers like the Monte Carlo range through to performance yachts like the Oceanis 41.1P.

“It’s just dynamic”, he says, “whatever emails or messages pop up is how I decide what I’m going to do for the day.”

That might be solving a problem for a client at any one of three Flagstaff offices, managing the expert marine trades involved in commissioning or teaching a new owner how to operate their boat.

Then of course there’s the excitement of overseeing the delivery of a brand new Beneteau. For Shane that’s a feeling that just that never gets old.

“It’s the journey of taking that boat from arriving fully shrink-wrapped in plastic to the handover with the owner. You’ve got a lot of things happening with those boats in the commissioning process,” he says. “And then there’s launch party; that’s quite an exciting part!”

Chief problem solver

Chief problem solver

Shane’s job title should really include Chief Problem Solver. He’s definitely the guy whose number you want in your phone when there’s a problem on board. And he’s always happy to take a call from an owner. “I operate on the assumption that there is no such thing as a silly question,” says Shane. “Basically, the phone at my house can ring anytime between 6am and 10pm … usually it’s something simple like the coffee machine doesn’t work because the inverter has tripped,” he quips.

First world problems aside, getting his clients back out on the water with minimum hassle is Shane’s number one priority. “I read a lot of manuals,” he says, “so I can understand and am able to fault find, diagnose and get it sorted so the owner has minimal downtime.”

And as Beneteau continues to integrate cutting edge technology like Ship Control and Dock and Go into their systems, Shane’s computer science degree stands him in great stead. “I am lucky – because I have a bit of a background in it I can work out those systems.”

And if things do go wrong Shane has his own meticulous system to get his clients back up and running. “Because we are very actively involved in the commissioning I will literally have hundreds of pictures of every boat,” he says. “So if you are in the Whitsundays and you had a problem and you rang me I would be looking at the same thing you are and we can work out what’s going on.”

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)

Meet my boat guy

Meet my boat guy

It’s clear that Shane really gets a kick out of solving complex problems – but more than that – he finds real satisfaction in helping people. This dedication to superb service and the boating community is a shared value for all of the Flagstaff team.
As Shane says, “We all become friends with our owners; you become a close-knit community. We’ve had owners who have bought three or four boats over 10 – 15 years. You get invited to the launching of the boat party with all their friends. You’re always introduced as their boat guy.”

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)

The bucket list

The bucket list

Shane ticked the Sydney to Hobart off the bucket list in 2002, crewing for Peugeot on a Beneteau 47.7. But ocean racing is not his top pick of ways to spend time on the water. “It was an awesome experience to go and do it and then I haven’t wanted to go back and do it since,” he says. “Look it’s nice to do but you working pretty hard out there – you’re doing your three hours on three hours off. Depending on what type of boat you’re on, what type of conditions there are, it can actually be really boring. Totally boring!” So if the Sydney to Hobart is dullsville what does get him excited?

“I did the FARR 40 circuit for a number of years. It’s like a grand prix of race boats,” he explains.

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)

 “You’ve got a very dynamic boat – it’s like a formula one car. And you’ve got various people doing various jobs to get the boat ready. Then it’s up to the team to get that around the course in the fastest way. It’s great sailing, very competitive. You don’t make up miles – you just don’t lose time. That sort of sailing is more fun than doing a Hobart – I prefer the excitement.”

 

No place like home

No place like home

Shane has sailed all over the world but for him nothing beats Australia’s beautiful waterways. “You can’t beat Sydney Harbour, especially at night … and then of course there’s the Whitsundays …” he says as if no further description is necessary.

Shane also lists his home, Pittwater Harbour, as one of the best places to sail in the world. “If you can sail Pittwater you can sail anywhere,” adding that many of the crew from Australia II, the yacht that won the America’s Cup back in 1983, were Pittwater boys.

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)

When it comes to racing, these days, he prefers to stay local. “Now I do the occasional Coffs Harbour but my favourite is a Hamilton Island daylight series – daylight hours, no rain – they’re my two rules,” he laughs.

Aside from a good night’s sleep and dry clothes it’s the community atmosphere that Shane loves …

“Flagstaff traditionally does Hamilton Island Race Week. We’re lucky that we go up every year and we’ve been doing it for a long, long time. We’ve been running race briefings for nearly 20 years now; we try to pass on our knowledge to the owners. I’ve been involved in some great racing up there with some fun owners. Time after time you get the phone call – we’re going up to Hammo – are you coming along? I take my family up as well – it’s just a really great time.”

So, what’s the strangest thing you’ve had to commission?

So, what’s the strangest thing you’ve had to commission?

“There are not many things I haven’t put on a boat!” says Shane with pride. “We’ve done some pretty out-there things, that’s why I say there’s no such thing as a silly question.

For one client we had to make a doggy ramp that had to fold. We thought we’d made the perfect ramp and it ended up being too grippy for the pup’s feet, so we had to recoat it.” 

Now if that doesn’t demonstrate the Flagstaff commitment to superb customer service, we’re not sure what does!

Learn more about Flagstaff Marine’s service and maintenance packages here.

(photo courtesy of John Curnow)