Stripey - missing you at Airlie Beach and will too at Hammo

Ian ’Stripey’ Grant
Since the inception of Airlie Beach Race Week 24 years ago and Hamilton Island Race Week some years earlier one of the constants of the two Whitsunday events has always been Ian 'Stripey' Grant, the much loved Queensland sailing writer.

Coming from down south, I always looked forward to catching up with him at both events. Over the last few days here in Airlie Beach, I´ve been missing him and the realisation his is not here and will not be at Hammo, has been striking home.

These events are never going to be the same again. So to remind everyone just what a top bloke he was and how huge his contribution was to these events, we are re-running his obit. with some extra content.

Stripey died on 29th March (Good Friday 2013), just after the start of the annual Queensland Brisbane to Gladstone coastal race.


Stripey was recovering in Brisbane´s Greenslopes Hospital from a severe stroke he suffered on the 2nd March 2013 when he had a heart attack after a physiotherapy session.

Race director Herb Prendergast had pre-event, told of Stripey´s involvment with the race.

'He witnessed the first start in 1949 at the age of about 13 after pedalling his bike from Bulimba to Woody Point Jetty with his Vegemite sandwiches for lunch and his contribution to this race spans a period of 53 years, starting with a win, crewing on Mouse of Malham in 1960 and about 1963 took up journalism,' wrote Herb.

'He has been in the race control room in Gladstone every year along with his wife Marie until about two years ago, whom he lost on March 12 after a long illness.

Stripey was the Queensland correspondent for Australian Sailing magazine from its first issue in 1976. He covered sailing and boating for the Brisbane Courier Mail and Sunday Mail from before that time and was still doing so until his stroke earlier this month..

He covered the 2000 Sydney Olympics for Sail-World.com and we nominated him for the Australian Yachting Federation (Yachting Australia) Volvo media award in 2002, which he won.

Sailing has been an obsession and passion for Ian 'Stripey' Grant from the age of eight when he was adopted as the boat-shed boy polishing the mild steel centreboards and wool-tying spinnakers, balloon jibs and ringtails in Bulimba boat sheds.

The great skiff skippers Vic Lucas, Norman Wright Jnr and Lance Watts encouraged him to be part of their pre and post race activities promising a bailer-boy apprenticeship when he grew stronger and older.

His passion for the sport allowed him to bond with all of the skiff champions with the little known Len Johnston becoming his idol.

'Len Johnston was an inspiration to all sports people, he was a paraplegic and I can remember him walking on his hands and trailing his limp legs behind as he lashed the boom and gaff tensions on his 12ft skiff Dove then skipper the 20 old boat to win the 1947-48 Australian Championship'.

'I wrote a special 'Kids' account of this amazing sporting achievement which was published in the local paper'.

Being part of that boat shed atmosphere remains as the most significant highlight in a career spanning almost 70 years of active involvement with the sport.

There are other proud moments including being the 'bailer boy' when Culex 111 beat Bill Barnett's Myra for the Australian 18ft skiff title in 1949 and crewing with Norman Wright Jnr to win the 1960 Brisbane-Gladstone Race with the former Captain John Illingworth owned yawl Mouse of Malham and being part of 'Rughead' Miller's shore support when he changed the 18ft skiff class by skippering his controversial three-hander Venom to win the 1961 JJ Giltinan World title on the Brisbane River.

'Rughead' gifted with exceptional talent changed world sporting history for ever when the same person who all us Brisbane River 'rats' knew as Bob Miller became Ben Lexcen and helped Australia win the Americas Cup'.

Maturity and marriage to the 'Child-bride' Marie Smith in June 1960 paved the way for 'Stripey' to first become a stringer and then a qualified sporting journalist with Queensland Newspapers where he covered Hockey and Rugby League in the winter months and sailing during the summer.

From 1963 to the present day the lifestyle of a dedicated sailing journalist has been totally involved with reporting for the sport.

During this time he had covered 24+ world championships and well over 100 National championships, Olympic selection trials and numerous other major regattas including the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Totally dedicated to promoting the sport of sailing, he had been covering Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach Race Week regatta's since their inception. He was there to record the red mud in Main Street at the first Hamilton Island Race Week and the kitchen fire in year two that burnt the hotel to the ground. He was there with Don Algie and Jim Hayes at the first Airlie Beach Race Week.

Over the years Stripey, with his encyclopaedic memory, his sense of history and his smile became the face and voice of sailing for much of Australia.

Queensland Maid - Chinese Gybe montage
Ian Grant


He was regularly heard on more than 70 radio stations, 'I've got a great head for Radio' says Stripey.

Born in the early days of the radio valve, 'Stripey' was involved in every media formant and took the new media which now days provides much of the sailing news around the worlld.

The Photo set we have used in this tribute, we taken by Stripey after the start of the Sydney Mooloolaba Race in 1987.

Fair Winds mate... keep those sails tensioned.

We will all miss you and the Child Bride´

And up here in the Whitsundays we will raise a glass or two to honour you both