Magnetic pull

Magnetic Island has long turned heads, but it's the SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week that’s captivated racers from across the country.

14 July 2021


Four years ago, James Permezel competed in the SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week for the first first with his Hanse 445 Charm Offensive. An experience that turned the tables and saw the North Queensland island turn the the tables, using its charms on him.

With his yacht now based on the island’s marina, Permezel has, in the time since, purchased a house and a commercial premise with a friend – the latter being the location where he’s in process of building a microbrewery. 

“We were looking at buying something on the Island,” Permezel explains.

“Over dinner at Mamma Roma, someone said, ‘I think you can buy the arcade on Esplanade’, where Mamma Roma is located. We rang the owners, they said yes, and we bought it three days later!”

“We thought the arcade would be a great place to put a brewery and a beer garden – we are licenced for both,” Permezel later adds.


But Permenzel is still devoted to the sport. Testing the local waters, he won Division at Port Douglas Race Week in late May, beating defending champion Mike Steel’s Boadicca. 

Steel is the Event Chairman of SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week.

“It was windy but glorious weather, competitive on the water, but so social back on shore, just like [Magnetic Island Race Week]. I had seven weeks up north, spending most of the time at [Magnetic Island], and I moved Charm Offensive there.”

“It’s a hidden paradise. From a boating point of view, you can get direct flights to Townsville, the SeaLink ferry to Nelly Bay. Step off, and there you are right at Peppers, the marina, restaurants, the shops and a bottle shop. [Every other regatta] in Australia we go requires a car,” the Victorian says.

Permezel is not the first Race Week entrant to feel the pull of Magnetic Island. Paul and Clare Ley, a Sydney couple who own the Kaufman 58 Pilgrim moved their sail charter business lock, stock and barrel.

“Winters in Sydney were dire for our business. About seven years ago, we cruised up and down the coast and ended up at Maggie. We did Race Week, met [Lance Jager, the marina owner] and proposed we do winter charters here,” says Paul.

“Four years in, we loved the place, bought a house, but still went back and forwards. Five years later we moved here permanently.”

The couple continues to race at SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week, with places on board available for charter.

“We’re excited for James – we’ve had a few chats about the microbrewery. Our philosophy is to buy local on the Island, so if the brewery kicks off and goes well, we’ll use his beer on the boat for charters.

“All the locals are excited and supportive – not that many new things have happened on the Island in recent times.”

Other Race Week competitors seduced by Magnetic Island include Tasmanian couple Jacinta and Brett Cooper who bought two units and marina berth, and Charm Offensive crew member, Steve Quinlivan, who will do up and move into a house he bought at Picnic Bay.

The 14th SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week is scheduled to commence 2 September. For more information, click here.

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