Owner Experience: Life Aboard the FD80 Fair Dinkum

For experienced Australian owners Shane and Liz Leadbetter, life aboard their new Horizon FD80 is unquestionably good.

In Australian slang, the expression “fair dinkum” is believed to have evolved from the colloquial Chinese words used to describe “real gold.” While the exact origins of this phrase are unclear, it is a uniquely Australian phrase that perfectly emphasizes the genuine excellence of something. Thus, when a new build Fast Displacement Horizon arrived on the continent, Horizon Yacht Australia Director Mark Western dubbed her “Fair Dinkum” as a playful reference to the FD acronym, and the name stuck.

Shane and Liz Leadbetter were enjoying their Horizon E75, Justified, when the FD80 Fair Dinkum came on the market in 2021, and they were quick to snap it up. “You could say it’s our dream boat,” says Liz.

Dedicated water lovers, the Leadbetters—together with their children, Emily and Jake, and their dachshunds, Roger and Daisy—have owned many boats over the years, from 20-footers up to their current FD80. They were first attracted to Horizon and the popular E Series design for its value and well-appointed layout, and purchased the E75 Justified in 2017 at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in near-new condition.

They returned to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in 2021 and were impressed with the high-volume interior and superyacht amenities of the FD80, which they purchased without making any alterations.

“Other than a few cushions and décor, we didn’t change a thing,” says Liz. “It was close to perfect for us. It has everything we wanted in terms of space for entertaining and hosting friends and family onboard in total comfort. In terms of security, it’s so well constructed we know we’re the best prepared we can be for long range cruising and voyages at night.”

The couple, who runs an investment business, enjoy nothing more than getting away from it all and finding solace at sea.

“We enjoy the opportunity to be on the ocean, in it, under it… anywhere at sea,” says Liz, adding, “and out of mobile range!

“Being surrounded by nature when we can’t see land is so peaceful,” she continues. “We dive and snorkel. Our children have their PADI licenses as well so it’s something we can do together as a family.”

Aboard Fair Dinkum, Liz and Shane have held many memorable theme nights to the delight of their fortunate friends.

“We’ve hosted Hawaiian nights and Mexican nights, complete with piñata and an authentic menu! It’s always a lot of fun.”

In 2021, the Leadbetters cruised from their Sunshine Coast home on the Mooloolah River to the Whitsundays, taking two weeks to explore the fascinating anchorages and islands along the way.

“Some highlights were Lady Musgrave Island, the Percy Islands near Mackay, and all the beautiful bays and inlets around the Whitsundays. We attended the Horizon Global Rendezvous in the Whitsundays in 2019, in 2020 at Hayman Island, and in 2021 at Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island. We had a ball!

“The best part of owning a Horizon is enjoying the company of other owners and becoming friends. Throughout the year, other owners pop into our place on the Sunshine Coast and tie up.”

This year, the Leadbetters are keen to enjoy as many journeys as possible on their sensational Horizon, including another sojourn in the Whitsundays, and are dreaming of adventures even further afield. Together, Shane and Liz are adept at handling their head-turning FD80 skyline, but if they are to extend their cruising ambitions, they plan to bring on crew with the expertise to navigate foreign waters.

“We would really like to cruise to Papua New Guinea and the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia. We’ve been there on a commercial cruise and loved it. It’s so remote, so unspoilt, with absolutely pristine water and some of the world’s best dive sites.

“That’s our dream and it’s entirely possible to do it in our Horizon.”

Horizon is, for the Leadbetters, the “pinnacle” of semi-custom builders. As for their aspiration to move up to a new model, Liz says nothing is set in stone, but Shane is “always full of surprises! Whenever we go to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show we come back with a bigger boat,” she laughs.

Until then, we wish Shane, Liz and the entire Leadbetter family many more wonderful cruising memories aboard Fair Dinkum. We’ll be waiting to show you a new Horizon at the next Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May 2023!


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