5 Questions with Phil Ross, Editor of Cruising Helmsman Magazine

Mike McKiernan
Posted February 8 2017

At what stage in your life did you take an interest in writing, and why?

In sixth grade primary school (the mighty Brighton Beach Primary in Melbourne) I had a teacher Mr. Kilkenny and he was a great pusher of ability, I spent a lot of that year rewriting fairy tales with an Aussie humour twist. He was such a good influence on me I actually became a primary teacher after finishing school.

What is your recipe for a great magazine? How do you assess ideas?

Great question, that whole, esoteric, what makes a good article! I strongly believe that CH is not a 'travel' magazine but an informational one. Therefore I concentrate on articles that provide excellent amounts of information to entice others to follow in the writer's footsteps. To enhance the story, the visuals are very important so I always stress to writers to get themselves a good camera and learn how to use it - then snap, snap, snap! So most articles about a destination or on a practical angle are usually longer than they used to be.

I also believe the editor's 'hands' should not be seen in the magazine. By that I mean the articles should be selected purely on its merit and for no other reason. It is not my position to judge what people want to read.

In recent times, what issue, article or feature are you most proud of?

The rise of production yachts that are easier to sail with minimal crew means more and more non-sailors are getting out there. Not only that but cruisers are reaching into areas previously not explored; the Murray Spence article on Antarctica (August 2016) was a cracker - interesting place and every photo a winner!

On the practical side this also means we are getting more and more articles on how to go sailing with a family, or shorthanded; plus instructional articles on how to set up a production yacht to take you across oceans, or educational articles on various parts of a yacht and its design work.

I truly feel the life of cruising is set to take off amongst the younger generations coming through.

Your three favourite Australian anchorages, and why?

Port Davey: one of the last true wilderness areas left. I first flew in there when I was 16 to do the South Coast Track and fell in love with its harsh isolation. I can certainly see why Jack and Jude Binder love it so much, as seen in our February issue.

Kimberleys: On the diagonal to Port Davey! But provides the same sense of wonder and beauty and isolation (sensing a theme here?) but warmer! My wife and I have also fallen in love with Central Australia for much the same reason, plus the learning and better understanding of Australia's first peoples and how intelligent and resilient they were to thrive in such harsh environment.

Airlie: Why? Party town! Plus close to the Shag Islet Rendezvous and Hamilton Island Race Week. A bloke's gotta have some competitive outlet.

What recent innovations in the marine industry are you most excited about?

The whole advent of electronics and the global internet. Along with the better construction methods of yachts I believe these two things are the instigators of the rise in cruising around the world. While some people may see this as a bad thing and I can certainly sympathise, it is inevitable. Maybe it is for the better if we can get people out on the water in a safe and enjoyable environment and then the sooner we can get people to take better care of this planet.

8 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Mike McKiernan


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Jack and Jude
Deckee Pro  Posted February 9 2017
Ross, besides being a very nice bloke, under your editorship CH has improved greatly with better produced images and finer layout. Furthermore, it is wonderful to see CH back to being a hands on informative mag for all boaties. We were very pleased to see how nicely our Port Davey article was put together in the February issue.
9 people found this helpful. Do you?Thank Jack and Jude

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