Every other year, since 1994, wooden boat lovers - builders, sailors, rowers and racers - have gathered in the wide and windy natural harbors of the Derwent River in Hobart, Tasmania for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Friends, Cathy Hawkins, Ian Johnstone and Andy Gamlin teamed up to organize the first one after Andy came back from the Brest (France) Maritime Festival with a boat full of ideas and a sea of enthusiasm.
Tasmania, with its rich maritime heritage, proximity to stands of magical Huon Pine, miles of accessible waterfront and a plethora of woodworking and boatbuilding artisans was a brilliant choice for the location. Over the years, the Festival became the top tourist attraction of Tasmania and one of the nation's top tourism draws - "the best of Australia in the heart of Tasmania."
I got to see the evolution first hand.