A visit to Croatia on a sailing trip 22 years ago was enough for Didier Lutz to get hooked.
Since his first return to school in 2000, the 60-year-old Swiss engineer has returned every year to visit and sail. For four years he has been sharing his knowledge and being a skipper in Croatia as a Swiss and French agent for Croatia-Yachting.
Originally from French-speaking Switzerland near Geneva, Didier has been sailing for more than five decades.
“I started sailing at 6 years old on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). I have three daughters who also sail. I came to Croatia to sail 22 years ago. I heard that it was an incredible place for sailing in Europe and only an hour and a half by plane from Geneva. Like Switzerland which has more than 1200 lakes, Croatia has more than 1200 islands, so I knew it would be really incredible”, says Didier.
Didier’s favorite spot in Croatia was the island of Hvar.
“I visit Hvar and the Zlatan Otok family, you now the fisherman turned famous winemaker. They are based in Sveta Nedjelja. His son Nikola warmly welcomed me in his small port when I visited them with my French-speaking clients who come mainly from France and French-speaking Switzerland. We eat their excellent Gregada, which is my favorite plate in Croatia,” he says, adding that he also likes lamb, pršut and local wines such as Pošip and Zinfandel.
Didier says his favorite island in Croatia is Sćedro, which is just off the southern coast of Hvar on the way to Korčula.
“This small island offers unique places to stay, even in high season. Filip will bring us croissants and cherry strudel straight to our boat early in the morning when he delivers to the 3 restaurants on the island. 46 people live on the island in the summer, half of them in the winter,” says Didier.
Didier, who rents boats nine months a year in Croatia, mainly around Kaštela, says his next goal is to discover Vis.
“All of Dalmatia is beautiful, including the Kornati and Zadar regions. The thermal wind is great for sailing, especially at the end of the day when the sun reflects off the sea.”
After 22 summers in Croatia, Didier says he learned the Croatian language.
“Speaking Croatian is essential. Pomalo, polako, nema problema… these are worlds you need to know and are my favorites. My local friends help me to learn more and more to speak”, adds Didier.
Didier, nicknamed Didi by the locals, also promotes the country he fell in love with.
He created the Facebook group – CroatiaForEver – which has more than 1700 members – promoting the beauty of Croatia as a sailing and tourist destination.
I enjoy Croatia every day. Croatia for sailing is unmissable and must be offered by quality sailors who respect and appreciate the sea,” he concludes.