"I'm converting my house into a 12 metre yacht."
From anyone else, it would be a facetious comment - from Australia's best known yachtsman, Jim Hardy, it is, quite simply, a statement of fact. The skipper of the last two Australian challenges for the America's Cup, and one of the world's most experienced international 12 metre class yachtsmen, had planned a third onslaught on the Americans in '77 with his "people's boat" financed by the Australian public, but his Matilda Syndicate foundered last Easter for lack of financial support.
That was the beginning of his plan to "go it alone" in another direction, sell off his assets, and build his own all-Australian yacht, hopefully, to compete in the great British ocean racing event, The Admiral's Cup, off Cowes, in July-August this year.
His family home for the past 14 years, in a Sydney north shore suburb, was the first to go. That went on the market in November, a few weeks after construction began on the "dream boat'. He and his wife, Anne, and their two sons moved into an apartment a few km away. The expensive Daimler car was sold off in December, and replaced with an older model Jaguar.
As Jim Hardy explained: "A boat like this will cost up to $100,000. I'll be carrying the whole thing. "I have equity in our family wine company which is owned by a fairly broad base - I'm one of about 16 in it. It earns a bit of income, not all that much, but I'm locked into it, and I don't wish to sell out my interest in the company, so I had to look around at what -other assets I've got that are not earning income." That left his house and his car.
Anne Hardy was taking the conversion of her home into a 12 metre yacht very calmly. "I think it's great," she said, "The house was too big for us anyway. 'I'he apartment is lovely, it overlooks the ocean, and I'm very happy there.
"I must admit I was a bit dubious about moving into an apartment, but I love it."
No, she smiled, Jim hadn't discussed selling the house with her, he'd just come home one day and said they were selling out. "I didn't have time to think about it," she laughed.
"We had talked at some length about trying to raise the money to buy this boat, hadn't we?" Jim interjected.
Anne laughed: "The house wasn't mentioned at that stage! "
The trials for the Admiral's Cup will be held off Sydney in March. Three boats will be selected to compete from around 10 competitors.
If Jim is successful in making the three yacht team, Anne will accompany him to England for the race.
"I'll be going over and barracking - that's part of the deal," she said.
RIGHT: Jim inspects detailed plans of the new boat. They sold their home and car to finance the bid for world race honours.