|Newport Beach Harbor Master Kurt Borsting|
Friday, January 18, 2019
|A restored wooden Snowbird|
|Dr. Albert Soiland|
|Flight of the Snowbirds|
|Jim Webster’s early Snowbird, circa 1930|
Thursday, January 17, 2019
By Len Bose
Sunday July 17 is the start of the 81st Flight of the Lasers and when people like Brett Hemphill, David Beek and Gator Cook call me up to ask me to write a story about “The Flight” I am all over it.
First call I made was to Seymour Beek to find out as much about the race as I could. Beek first sailed in the race at the age of seven, I did not happen to ask Beek what year that was but the race started in 1936. The race first was known as the Flight of the Snowbirds, which is 11 foot monotype sailing dingy. The Snowbird was a class in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Beek’s best finish’s were in 1948 and 49 with two-second places to Gil Kraemer and Dick Deaver respectively. These were the years when as many as a 160 boats would be on the starting line at the same time. To finish in the top fifty would be quite the accomplishment, but to finish second during this time,with all the past Olympians 0n all those boats, needs some serious respect and acknowledgment.
Beek refers to the race as “The Flight” because over the years the race has been sailed in the Snowbirds from 1948 to1970, Kites 1972 to 73 and now Lasers from 1975 to present. The Laser also happens to be an Olympic class boat.
In 1954 Tom O’Keefe won The Flight and I had a chance to talk to him over the phone. “ At that time The Flight was the largest one design race in the world. I recall once I got into the lead there was a news reel boat filming the race and later played the news reel in the theaters.” O’Keefe said. “ I also remember all the power boats in the bay blowing their horns at the finish line when I won the race. It was a big deal at that time. O’Keefe recalled a story about a competitor who's boat did not measure in to the rules and this person had won a number of different regattas that summer. There was someone who took offense to this competitor and swam from Balboa Island and tipped the boat over just before the start of the race. O’Keefe recalls the harbor department following the swimmer back to the beach he had come from. “I still have the silver plated bowl I won as the take home trophy that year, I will always remember all those boats.” O’Keefe said.
Next I checked in with Chris Raab who had won The Flight in Lasers in 99, 02 & 03. “ This race meant everything, I needed a new sail really bad and the winner received a new sail. My father was at work and he did not have time to trailer my Laser down from Long Beach so I remember sailing my boat from Long Beach to Newport, at the age of 15, so that I could practice a couple of days before the event. Dude this race meant everything to me, it was huge!” Raab said.
I had to pick up the phone and call the man himself Jon Pinkney who has won The Flight more than anyone else with seven wins. Like all the past winners the first thing he said was “ It was the big event, the biggest race on the bay at the time, and I wanted that new sail. Out of the 100 boat that started the winner was the king.” Pinckney said.
Pinckney recalls the 1990 Flight, which was one of the windiest, as the one that got away from him. “ Phil Ramming and I came off the starting line ahead of the fleet. Ramming had just tacked off of O mark to starboard and lee bowed me back to the right side of the course. Ramming then made it in front of the ferry, that was headed into Balboa Island, and I had to sail around it. I was never able to catch him after that.” Pinckney said. This was some twenty-six years ago and Pinckey was telling the story as if it was yesterday.
When I told Pinckney and Raab about the winner of this years Flight receiving a new sail they both got rather quite. I’ll let you know if I see Raab on his Laser this week before the start. Sailing Pro shop is donating the new sail along gift certificates, the entry is free thanks to the Newport Chamber of Commerce. There are several categories that people can enter, such as the youngest skipper, parent child, couple, oldest skipper, and bragging rights.
Entry and information can be found on the website, www.flightofthelasers.org
Boat name of the week “ Chill Vibe”
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.
|Andrew & Len Bose 2013 Midwinters|
By Len Bose
February 21, 2013 | 2:01 p.m.
This week's column is more for me than for all of you.
I am sure you have heard and lived it yourself: Life is too short to go boating without your family and friends.
Tuesday I stared at my blank computer monitor for about 20 minutes, thinking of something to write for this column. Then, while looking out of my office window, I noticed the large, dark clouds of a winter storm approaching.
My phone rang. It was my mother, looking for assistance to take my father to the hospital. As we traveled south on Coast Highway, I glanced out to sea. The look of the approaching storm shook me from the inside out this time. I took a deep breath as my emotion started to rise in me like the ocean's tide.
Over the last 15 years my mother and I have made this trip many times, but this time felt different. The parking lot was full, and we ended up on the top level, where you can see out over the harbor. The dark clouds were coming in from Catalina, and it was only a matter of time before the forecasted downpour would be upon us.
While in the hospital's emergency room, we always seem to talk about the same topic: sailing.
This time, my father thanked me for sending him photos of my son Andrew and I sailing our Harbor 20 in last weekend's Midwinters. He always talks about when he and I learned how to sail a Hobie 16 off the 18th Street beach and reminds me of all the moored boats I ran into.
Quite often, the story comes up of when we beat one of our best friends in the Ancient Mariner regatta back in the 1970s. It always feels good to laugh together at these familiar stories in these situations.
As doctors and nurses came in and out of his room, we talked about his grandson's junior sailing classes and the expression on the boy's face when he returned from one of his lessons after he flipped his Sabot for the first time. This was followed by concerned laughter.
We also like to bring up one or two stories from our many Catalina trips. The story that seems to get the biggest laugh is about one of our failed attempts to make it through the surf in a dinghy while heading back to the boat.
This story always gets my mother into the conversation, with her saying something about me being a genius, and how I almost took out our whole family. The laughter will grow louder as we all recall wading back to the beach to retrieve the turtled dinghy, with its outboard sounding and looking more like a blender.
Of course, we also have our Duffy electric boat stories from when one, or all, of us had a little too much fun at dinner.
I've asked on more than one occasion, "Hey Dad, do you remember which dock we tied the boat to?" When she hears that story, my mother normally just puts her head down and shakes her head from side to side, and I see a half smile appear on her face as she pretends to hide it.
The harbor and boating has become a big part of our lives. We continue to observe the tide come in and out, and the dark winter storms do the same. What I had not realized is how often I watch them alone.
This last weekend I sailed the first day of the Midwinters by myself because I thought I would be faster in the lighter winds. It turned out that I was wrong, in more ways than one.
I am hoping that this winter storm will pass with little incident and my father will return home and regain his strength. I still want to tell a few more stories about the next Harbor 20 race with him and his grandson.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.
Who said "Life is easy, when time grows shorter?"
|The family chain.|
Who said "Life is easy, when time grows shorter?"
Thursday, January 10, 2019
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