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Column:: The Crowd: Members of the Whittier Trust sail in Transpac

Yacht Grand Illusion as it is prepared to set sail in the 2019 Transpac race. In the back row, from left, are Brian Bissell, Caleb Silsby, David Dahl and Whit Bachelor. Seated in front are Jeff Aschieris, Kayla McComb and Greg Custer.
(Photo by Peggy O’Donnell)

The celebrated California-to-Hawaii Transpac race took off July 10. The event included a serious contingent of Orange County yachtsmen and women. Among the local crew on a legendary entrant, Grand Illusion, are world-champion, All-American sailors from Newport Beach.

The yacht is sponsored by Whittier Trust, the “heritage sponsors” of Transpac, which is marking the 50th year of a biennial race first sailed in 1923. Joining yacht owner Dave Clark, who will be on board as one of the mainsail trimmers, is Whittier Trust’s champion sailor and senior vice president, Brian Bissell, who will serve as one of the drivers, following a tradition that began with the Whittier brothers sailing the 107-foot Poinsettia yacht in the inaugural Transpac.

At 70 feet, Grand Illusion, has won “the world’s longest enduring ocean race” three times under previous ownership. The yacht will have a crew of 11 sailors on four-hour shifts, around the clock, for an expected eight to 11 days, covering 2,300 miles.

Sending off the yacht last week with Bissell and Clark were local champion sailors Caleb Silsby, David Dahl, Whit Bachelor, Jeff Aschieris, Kayla M. Comb and Greg Custer. They offered a safe and successful journey to their fellow Newport sailors.


Values need to be taught to the young

Young men from the National League of Young Men volunteering at the Back Bay Therapeutic Riding Club, Newport Beach.
(Photo by Korre Hartlong)

Teaching young women the value of community service is a decades-long tradition in Orange County. There are countless charitable organizations dedicated to instructing girls on the meaning and value of serving the community.

This instruction is largely absent in the lives of young men. In Newport-Mesa there is a group called the National League of Young Men (NLYM), and it is a chapter in a growing national outreach with the mission of instilling the value of community action in the minds and hearts of boys. NLYM is a non-profit geared toward serving teen boys in grades 9-12.

The formula might be called a cousin to National Charity League, one of the most recognized programs of its kind for young women. The concept is simple and straight forward. Based on the belief that values and morals need to be taught, the organization seeks to promote the development of young men into future community leaders by way of involvement in service, charity and cultural immersion. In addition, protocol education is taught in a world that seems to be rapidly sacrificing expediency in place of mannered behavior.


NLYM has been serving the community for some time without much fanfare. Deserving credit, the mothers of the young men involved have organized significant events over the past years with major plans moving into 2020. Several of the key relationships formed this year include Meet the Need, the Back Bay Riding Therapeutic Center and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

Meet the Need is a program developed by NLYM which provides school supply boxes to in-need children in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. Each year NLYM young men fill about 300 pencil case boxes and hand deliver them to two elementary schools that the district decides most needs the supplies. Each box contains scissors, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, erasers and a pencil sharpener. This year the children of Paularino and Adams elementary schools received these boxes, which are part of the district’s after-school program for low-income students, which offers homework help and literacy in a safe environment.

Most recently the young men of NLYM spent a day at CHOC interacting with young patients, supplying crafts, games and other activities. It was the fourth year in a row in which the organization has made CHOC an important part of its outreach.

Challenging social media misinformation

The World Affairs Council of Orange County presented an important lecture July 16 at UC Irvine titled, “How to Keep Your Stories Straight in a Shareable Social World.” The evening event was part one of a three-part series: “Under the Influences, Faking it: A Social Series on Fake News, Misinformation and Media Bias.”

The series has been created by Neel Grover, founder and CEO of and Ambreen Qamar, advisor to development in literacy. The panel was moderated by Brian Calle, executive director of the Center for Freedom of Expression and Media Integrity at Chapman University.

For information on upcoming programs go to

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B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.