Rick Eylward reckons he is too old for sailing, which is why he picked up the role of principle race officer at the Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club.
That was 18 years ago; fast forward to today, and his dedication to the club and sport has resulted in him receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) this year.
Mr Eylward was one of four locals who were given the national honour on Australia Day this year, but for him it could not have been given to him at a better time – the club hosts the annual Milang to Goolwa Freshwater Classic on the Australia Day weekend.
“How appropriate that it comes to the club on the eve of our most iconic race,” he said.
Mr Eylard’s role as principle race officer involves him “setting the course and supervising the race” whenever an event is held at the club. It’s a role he is proud to have.
“I came down a few years beforehand and looked for a job, to help out. I got out on the rescue boats. (The job) was floating around and they were asking for volunteers, and I was the only one who didn’t step back,” he said.
He was “certainly surprised” to find out he would receive the honour, but had to keep it a secret for a few months before the announcement was made.
“I think almost without exception, all the members came up to me and congratulated me,” he said.
“They’re a great mob, they take sailing quite seriously but have fun while they’re doing it.”