Peter Behr 2463 Views

Peter Behr's Story

Peter Behr began volunteering when he was 18 years old. His personal obligation to help others kept him affiliated with various sailing clubs and organisations including the Scouts, school P&C associations and most recently, the SES and SWD.

Peter was first introduced to sailing by friends Graeme and Bob Fraser, and their father Doug. Bob Fraser went on to become a well-regarded sail maker with Fraser Sails. Peter’s time as a Sea Scout and later as Assistant Scout Leader and Group Leader at Longueville and Tambourine Bay, placed him well for a role within SWD.

As a proud life member of the Lane Cove 12 Foot Sailing Skiff Club, he credits the club with fostering his interest. Peter first learned to sail on a Vee Jay and 28 foot sloop “Degra” owned by the Fraser family. There were no formal lessons - they simply learned by “giving it a go”. A couple of years later he bought a Vee Jay and continued to race on boats of varying size and speed. 

Over the years, Peter has shared the joys of sailing with his wife and four children, and has owned and raced several boats. Though a capable sailor, he finds SWD quite challenging “because a 52 foot yacht is different from sailing a 12 or 16 or even a 23 foot sailing boat.”

With (semi) retirement and extra time on his hands, Peter responded to an article on SWD in the Sydney Afloat magazine in 2013. Since then, he has been working mostly with the Winds of Change programme. He hopes that he has been able to provide teenagers with a pleasant introduction into the world of sailing.

We know it’s been much more than that.

Regaling us with a memorable tale, Peter says “We were cruising out through the heads on Kale and Moshka when we turned to sail back with 20 to 25 knots of wind from the North East. The yacht started to heel and a boy sitting on one of the back observations seats was convinced that the yacht was going to "flip". He believed that the more it heeled, the further he would slip towards the centre of the boat (and fall out). So before anything like that happened, I managed to squeeze my way between him and (his) pending disaster, to continue talking with him for the next 15 minutes until we entered the relative calm of the harbour. Once inside the harbour, the boy managed to leave his seat and go up to the bow to skirt the head sail as he had been asked.”

Peter says it’s a handshake or a high five at the end of the day, or someone using his name or offering a personal thank you, that gives him the greatest pleasure. It is at these times that he truly feels that he is creating change in another person’s life.

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Peter Behr

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