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Offshore


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KB 15 Feb 2008
 

Today it is my very great pleasure to interview a man who has led a many faceted life, a man who is one of the longest standing members of all the boards, a man who I personally count amongst my real life friends and a man whose original Admin team position was as the moderators' leader.

Ken : Offshore thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.

Offshore : Thanks for the opportunity Ken, although I feel I pale into insignificance, when in the company of the former interviewees.

K : Not at all my friend you have been around longer than most. Ok I know you have very many interesting stories to tell so lets get started with the first one, can you please give us a detailed explanation of your username?

OS : Well I started on the boards at TRC around 4-5 years ago, and my original user stemmed from an abbreviation of my own name. With the commencement of the original RWG, I decided to change my user (as I finally had come to realise that this hobby was actually not all that legal file:///C:/Users/Bob/AppData/Local/Temp/lu10756v9ok1z.tmp/lu10756v9ok26_tmp_b8d2b2f407abf369.gif ) and maybe it wasn't such a great idea to blast my name around. So I decided to reference a sport in which I had been very involved-Offshore Power Boat Racing.
I had in earlier years had a passing flirtation with motor racing, had done a few circuit races and drag raced an old Lotus Cortina.
During the 80's I had owned a marine retail business, and my competitive nature, saw me commence racing in the early 1980's. I was fortunate to have a couple of long standing racers in the sport as mentors, they gave me great direction, and I was pretty successful, with a couple of national titles to my name. Toward the end of the 80's, a fellow competitor and friend, invited me to become involved in the construction and racing of a Class 1 boat. These are the huge horsepower, multi million $$ machines we see the 'rich and famous' racing today. Interestingly, back then, most of the competitors on the world scene, had a more nefarious background, in fact during the '80's, most of the world champions ended up in jail on drug running charges, at some time.(Race boats were quicker than customs boats I guess!)
Fortunately my mate came from more hard working stock, he was an abalone diver. His industry and business had skyrocketed, and he seriously had more $$ than he knew what to do with. So I suppose I helped him to tear a fair bit up, racing on the world scene.
We had some success, got a place in the worlds' in Florida in the early 90's, and introduced a bit of Aussie ingenuity to the sport.. Where all the other guys were running big block V8's and V12's, we had opted for a pair of triple turbo charged -6 cylinder diesels. The rules at the time gave us some serious advantages, and, with 1000+ hp per side on tap, we actually shocked the sport with our performances.
The other advantage was that the diesels were bullet proof, and where the petrol guys rebuilt motors after each event @ like $100k per motor, we just cleaned 'em down, and turned up a week or a month later and fired 'em up, and raced again.(The money pit was not bottomless!-and we needed some extra cash to party'hard.)
In 1993, my mate had also purchased a smaller version of the same boat, (outboard powered- 2 x 300hp) for local inshore racing. As I was remarrying at the time, I was considering retiring. A week after my wedding, he rang me and asked if I would race with him the next weekend. I didn't let on to the 'bride' that I may race, but decided to do a test session on the Thursday prior. Well either I was getting old, or the boat was too much, but it scared the s**t out of me, flighty, and seriously quick. (Saw 130mph during testing) So I said, 'Look, I'll come Sunday, and team manage, you get Dave (the former owner) to run with you'
Come Sunday, I launched them, and shortly after the start, the boat blew over backwards at 130+mph, killing my mate, and seriously injuring his co pilot. (It ended up being a mechanical fault) There but for the grace of God, went I as well!
My final decision on retirement from the sport was instantaneous.


K : Speaking on behalf of the members we are very glad you did. Now of course there's the diving thing, I'm in a comfortable chair so let's have the background on this too.

OS : In an earlier life (teens and twenties) I had developed a huge love of the water, swimming, surfing, lifesaving, spear fishing and SCUBA diving. I grew up through the 50's and 60's when Cousteau was a God.
Whilst still at school, a mate and I had been making wetsuits, and I ended up running a couple of dive shops in the very early years of SCUBA diving. I then worked as a pro diver on a Hydro electric scheme, as a survey diver. Also spent time as a pearl diver, abalone diving, had a business laying moorings etc, even worked as a photographer on one of the very early docos on great white sharks. And I finally ended up as a dive instructor. (Gotta tell you, there is a lot said about the social life of a snow ski instructor'. You really need to live on a holiday island for a year or so as head diving instructor' no place for a married man!)
During all this diving activity, I had also become very involved in Cave Diving. Ended up VP of our National Assoc, and spent hundreds of hours mapping, and exploring underwater caves.( actually have a couple of caves named after me)
I was probably one of the early adopters and developers of some pretty sophisticated (for then) specialised caving equipment.
For those who aren't aware'this is one bloody dangerous sport, lost some friends, and acted on rescue/recovery teams more than once. I finally found I had contracted a diving malady known as 'bone necrosis', from diving too deep, for too long, too many times! When the doctors finally said I needed to cease diving, or the next step was removal of my arms at the shoulder, I sort of decided that blowing bubbles, was not really that exciting after all.


K : And finally something that may not interest our international friends too much but will be the highlight for the Aussie members, your AFL links.

OS : Yeh, Played a few games for a VFL (now AFL team), really wasn't that special as a footballer, but my competitive nature sort of overcame the lack of ability. (To a degree) Ended up on the board of another AFL team, and with contacts from there, and a friend who was head coach, did a bit of specialist coaching in later years, when a new franchise was established.

K: Well that was a very modest wrap still it's your story. You have certainly lead an active and interesting life, how does that all equate with the more sedentary life, here in the watch scene?

OS: Ken, I always thought when I was younger, that I probably would never live to see 50. I really believed I would probably 'buy it' in some form, especially in diving.
(And came bloody close more than once) So I adopted an attitude of living every day to its fullest, and to a degree, damn the future. I think this shows here, in this little reflection. Now all of a sudden it seems, I find myself in sort of semi retirement, far less active, almost a recluse! I really don't get out much at all, and now much enjoy sitting at home, either behind the computer helping to keep the group of members here in a modicum of order, or at my workbench, trying to come to grips with another challenge in learning to repair watches.


K : D.L.Gates is a very well know name within our little hobby, he was also the man who suggested that I touch base with you when I was still a noob. Dave once said to me in an E-mail if there was one member of the boards that he wished he could meet it was member Offshore. You two must have been very close virtual friends, do you have any stories you want to share from your many chats with Dave?

OS : Not so much stories, but will reminisce a little about the man.
I clearly remember when Dave first joined TRC. As a noob, he immediately impressed with his passionate interest and dedication. Even though I was probably only a little more advanced, I sort of gave him an assist to get started in the hobby.
Then when the original RWG kicked off, I gave Dave the heads up, and he joined us at RWG. The rest as they say is history.
Dave showed all the class and characteristics of the thorough English gentleman he is. He was a tireless poster, learned and developed his fabulous photography skills, wrote some wonderful (unpaid file:///C:/Users/Bob/AppData/Local/Temp/lu10756v9ok1z.tmp/lu10756v9ok26_tmp_76207ae0f5675113.gif ) reviews of many 'off beat' watches, and became one of our most loved and leading members.
We exchanged many emails, and had many great chats, and he assisted me at various times in some purchases from within the US. These times really opened my eyes to the wonderful friendships you can develop in a virtual world.
Sadly, as we moved to this new home, he became ill, and has not been a regular visitor since, although we touch base from time to time. We are poorer for his absence.
It would be great, that at some time I had the opportunity to shake his hand, and have a drink or three, but if not, I'm sure we will cross paths in another life.


K : And of course this brings us back to the topic we are all interested in'watches'.I understand that you no longer buy replicas but spend all your time collecting, repairing and reselling gen's. Still it would be interesting to hear the Offshore story'Where it started with rep's the crossover to gen's and exactly where you think it will take you from here'

OS : OK, Originally I had a flirtation with reps back in the mid '80's on a trip to HK.
Bought 2 or 3, (Rolex of course) from a street vendor. They were probably quartz, I wouldn't have known the difference back then, and they all expired within days of coming home. I first became seriously interested in reps maybe 7 or 8 years ago when I received a spam email, for an Italian Rolex!
Did some research, and found ReplicaCentre. I was as green as they come, and almost fell into the trap, but I couldn't quite comprehend why all the questions I posted to their 'forum', never appeared nor were answered. So I continued to research on the 'net, (something I consider myself now reasonably good at), and found the remnants of the old RWC board. That lead me to TRC, I did my due diligence, and I found my feet there. That time was without doubt, my greatest learning curve. Bought and sold a bunch of reps, got nicely dudded by a dealer, (which still grates' don't ever anyone ever mention 'Natalie', and 'honest', in the same sentence), and started to learn to repair watches,
I became, and still am, an ebay junky, and picked up a few nice genuine pieces.
About the time I found and moved to the original RWG, I started to question the prices I was paying for reps. (Gee they were approaching $300 for the top of the range ETA models), and being my usual frugal self (read cheap) I decide to start a gen collection. I was picking up some nice pieces, Omega, Maurice La Croix, GP, sort of middle of the road stuff, in a lot of cases at under $100. This now runs to almost 300 watches, but it flows and ebbs with purchases and sales. Probably the reason I remain active around the boards, (aside from the friendships I have developed) is that I can continue to learn the 'tells' on the new model reps which emerge. I can proudly boast, I have never been caught buying a rep as a gen; a fact I put down to my ongoing learning from this great place.

In my repairing, I had started to do a few jobs for friends, but found like everyone does, most were quartz. So I purchased a few batteries and some parts and bands and things, and ended up setting up a stall at a Sunday market. I now have almost 1000 quartz watches, new and used (mainly cheap Chinese market stall stuff) along with my better mechanicals, which I buy, sell and trade.
I was experiencing huge difficulty sourcing replacement crystals for my repair work and this lead to my becoming an agent for a crystal manufacturer, and in the past 12 months to importing a range of parts, assortments of O rings, spring bars, stems, hands, tools etc. We distribute these as a wholesaler, to many retail outlets and hobbyists. Actually, today I was advised we have been appointed as a major distributor of a leading battery brand, (and we will sell over 50,000 this year) Our web site goes on line in a couple of weeks, and we will sort of be 'up there' with some of the bigger wholesalers here. So I guess as I move more towards retirement, I will continue to dabble in buying and selling watches, and to expand the wholesaling operation.


K : In fact a short wrap up of the history of the boards as seen by Offshore wouldn't go astray'.

OS : Ken, As I have some fairly bitter memories of some events that have taken place around the boards, I might let that one 'go through to the 'keeper'
I'm sure there are others better positioned than I, to offer a more subjective (or objective) view of that history.
As far as the forums are concerned, I prefer to look forward.
I will however comment on where we seem to be at, and heading. The recent closer ties between the forums is most welcome, after all we are all watch lovers, we just each enjoy a different style of presentation. Personally, I have pushed hard, to get the various admin teams to interact more strongly, and am pleased at the early results we are seeing from this inter forum cooperation.
I trust these ties grow stronger, to our mutual benefit.


K : Offshore I know you as an all in team man, and I also know that you love this board we have created here, but as one of the original members of the old RWG can you share your thoughts of when you first realised that we would have to relocate?

OS : Yeh, sort of as above, I prefer to look forward, but I felt very bitter, let down, and angry that someone would just abandon his creation, and those who had worked to help create it. I was particularly annoyed and frustrated, that the wonderful repository of information which had been collected over the years, appeared as if it would be lost.
Things like the amazing thread of knowledge created by Neo, to which I had also contributed.
As you well know, we tried to rescue some of this work, but it proved a huge task, and only a small amount was revived..
Amazingly, the shell of that forum remains today, and much of that information is still available, although with little moderation or attention, our old home is sort of like the 'Marie Celeste', still under sail, but with no master or crew. It still seems to draw an amazing number of new members to its ranks, one hopes that after some basic induction, the more dedicated, find their way here, or to one of the more 'controlled' forums, to continue to enjoy this hobby.


K : Ok 5 minutes of fame''Age?

OS : 60

K : Occupation?

OS : Purchasing Manager

K : Beer, Wine or'*cough*'Rum?

OS : Cough (and coke)

K : Meat or Fish?

OS : Yep. All of the above.

K : Favourite movie?

OS : Amazingly'Jaws.

K : Favourite Book?

OS : Ken, I don't read books, I consume them. Over Christmas I read about 9 or 10.
Can't name a standout. Lately I like stuff ala Grisham.


K : Does the dunny roll hang under or over?

OS : Never looked! Probably both.

K : 3 people past or present that you would love to share dinner with?

OS : Sir Donald Campbell, Jacques Cousteau, and Sir Donald Bradman. (With Raquel Welch as waitress)

K : And that's a wrap, just a couple of last questions. What's it really like living in Queensland, which the Aussies all know is not really a state but one big holiday resort?

OS : I really love it up here. As you know I spent 40 odd years in Melbourne, although I have lived all round Australia at different times. The climate is just about perfect, further north gets a bit too hot, and any further south, well I start shivering as soon as I cross the border. 'Queensland! Beautiful one day, perfect the next'

K : And finally any truth in the rumor that you fled north to escape a gaggle of ex wives?

OS : Don't know about 'to escape'' maybe to rid myself of the debt they were generating for me. But yeh'gaggle seems a most descriptive adjective' there are a couple of ex's, and a couple more 'almosts' around the place. (Not here thankfully)

K : Offshore I thank you for your time and hope that we may have another GTG some day in the not to distant future.

OS : Ken, it was really one of my great life pleasures, when you and your lovely family visited us last month, as it was when Cornerstone dropped in last year. It is truly amazing to meet people from our virtual world, especially those who you have worked in a team with for a few years. I understand another of our admin team may be in Oz, in the not to distant future, and he is under threat of death, if he doesn't spend some time here.
I sincerely say to anyone from the boards, if you are ever in Queensland, please look me up.

Finally, one of my dreams would be to arrange a worldwide GTG/conference/ seminar, of all the members of ALL the forums. A pipe dream?......maybe''.We'll see!


Ken

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