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Public Sailing Center Fund Drive Begun : $350,000 Addition at Orange Coast College Rowing Base Planned

Times Staff Writer

One of Orange County’s most picturesque sites--the base on Newport Bay for Orange Coast College’s rowing crew--is scheduled for a $350,000 building addition.

When completed, the expanded facility will be called the college’s Public Sailing Center and will offer classes in sailing, navigation and other nautical skills. The Orange Coast rowing crew also will continue to use the base.

Brad Avery, Orange Coast College’s sailing program director, said Friday that final approval was obtained in March from the California Coastal Commission to build classrooms and other facilities atop the college’s existing one-story crew base at 1801 W. Coast Highway.

Orange Coast College’s public sailing program is one of the nation’s largest, with more than 2,500 people annually taking classes that are offered seven days a week. Avery said the college has 24 sailing boats, from 14-foot dinghies to the 65-foot world racer “Alaska Eagle.”

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Drive Launched

A drive has been launched to raise the $350,000 needed to build the addition from private donations. Avery stressed that the fund raising for the addition is being done by the Sailing Academy, and not by the community college itself. The Sailing Academy, which is administered through the college’s community services program, is responsible for teaching the non-academic, non-credit sailing courses.

Construction will begin when the money is raised, Avery said.

The 4,577-foot addition will include two large classrooms and an upper deck for celestial navigation classes. The expansion also will allow for a sailing office, small kitchen, new restrooms and storage lockers.

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The crew base, built in 1976, is next to the exclusive Balboa Bay Club and overlooks “yacht row,” part of Newport Bay north of Lido Isle and studded with piers for luxury yachts.

International Fame

Partly because of the international fame of Orange Coast’s rowing crew, and partly because of the colorful location, artists have frequently come to the training site to portray the crewmen and their sculls.

The community college crew over the years has beaten such major university teams as Harvard, Yale, Washington and UC Berkeley. The Orange Coast crew has toured internationally, having raced at Henley-on-Thames in England and in China.

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Until 1981, there were few sailing courses offered at the site. But in 1981, after Orange Coast College’s sailing program became fee-based, the sailing program for the public was greatly expanded, with evening and weekend classes offered.

Avery said that the lack of space had forced the school to conduct some classes in the rowing shell bays at the existing crew site. “The narrow bays were never intended to be used as classrooms,” he said.

Avery said that if all goes well with the fund-raising drive, as he anticipates, “we can start construction early next year--in January.”

“I’m hoping the building will be ready for use by the summer of 1987,” he added.

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