Legend leaves legacy in both sailing and tourism

BOB Oatley, as he was better known as, will leave a lasting legacy in both the tourism and sailing community in this region.

He was the owner of Hamilton Island and iconic yacht Wild Oats XI.

Hamilton Island chief executive officer Glenn Bourke said Mr Oatley had left a lasting legacy on the island.

"We're thankful they decided to invest," he said.

"We're enjoying our highest occupancy ever and the family would have a lot to do with that.

"He's left a lasting legacy for us."

Mr Bourke said it was obviously a sad time but everyone on Hamilton Island was glad to have been a part of Mr Oatley's life.

"In the early 1980s Bob came sailing past here when Keith Williams was developing the island and loved the place," he said.

"In 2003 the opportunity came up to buy the island and that's when he (Mr Oatley) decided to become involved.

"It was never just an investment; he had a deep affinity with the place.

"I think he brought to fruition some of the ideas and visions of Keith Williams."

Mr Bourke said he was very close to Mr Oatley.

"He changed my life in many ways," he said.

Bowen sailor Rodger Snell said what Mr Oatley had done for sailing was "unbelievable".

"He didn't sail on Wild Oats XI that much but he continued to push the boat and fund that boat," he said.

"I think it's 11 years old now and it's still competing at the pinnacle of yachting."

Mr Snell said Mr Oatley had helped grow the profile of sailing and bring it to people's attention more.

Whitsunday Marketing and Development general manager of tourism Rebecca Nicol said the whole community was mourning the passing of Mr Oatley.

"He's left an amazing legacy for the region," she said.

"He has certainly made a massive contribution to the Whitsunday region's tourism in general."

In a statement the Oatley family said Mr Oatley was a proud and passionate Australian.

"The Oatley family has been touched by the many kind words and tributes that have already been received from friends, colleagues and the wider Australian community," the statement read.

Mr Oatley is survived by his wife Valerie, his three children, Sandy, Ian and Ros, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Details

 Robert Oatley was born on June 11, 1928.

 He died on January 10, 2016.

 A private funeral will be held.

 Mr Oatley made his fortune, from the Rosemount Estates wine company.

 He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to the Australian wine and tourism industries, and to yacht racing


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