The Harbor Report: Trophy brings back memories of a friend

Every so often, I find a favorable wind shift and pull a rabbit out of my hat. This last weekend, it was my turn to get lucky and win the 2013 Lorin Weiss Series sailed in Harbor 20s out of the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. Lorin Weiss was a very good friend of mine who sold me advertising in Santana Magazine; I sold his Cal 2-46 "IdleWeiss" for him, and he made you smile every time you noticed him around town. Lorin passed away about 10 years ago, and ever since BCYC named this regatta after him, I would look across the harbor during this event and want my name on that trophy. Something tells me I had a little help from an old friend last weekend. Thanks, Lorin.

Now, this is a strange way to go into an interview, but it just feels right for me to go from one of our harbor's best to another. Most of you might have noticed Doug Campbell receiving the prestigious 2013 Edward F. Kennedy Memorial Trophy during BCYC opening day a couple of weeks ago. This award is given out to our harbor's yachtsmen of the year. I first met Doug 15 years ago at a Balboa Yacht Club race council meeting, and as soon as he started talking, I knew this guy knows his stuff, he does not want to waste time and he truly wants to improve yachting in Newport Harbor.

The next time I met Doug, we were doing mark set for a BYC regatta and we were both in a 23-foot Skipjack by the name of "Gringo." The sea conditions were difficult and I was having problems keeping one of the marks in the boat, and Doug, from the helm of the boat, reached back over the helm chair and grabbed hold of the mark. Just then, we came off a rather large swell and landed hard, and Doug broke a couple of his ribs. I continued to ask him if we should retire from the race and head in, but he wanted to complete our task and waited for the race to finish.

These are just some of the reasons Doug's name is now on the Edward F. Kennedy Memorial Trophy. Other past winners of this award are Swede Johnson, Almon Lockabey, Burt Zillgitt, Gil Knudson, David Grant, Brad Avery, Carter Ford, Nick Scandone, Jerry Moulton, Rod Woods and Mike Pinckney, just to name a few.

Doug was born in Toronto and started sailing Albacores in the lakes north of his hometown. After graduating from the University of Toronto, Doug went to work for the Coleman Company, then, after a few years, started his own company. In 1975, Doug was recruited to become president and CEO of the Hobie Cat Company.

From 1975 to 1989, Doug ran the Hobie Cat Company and, as you can guess, spent most of his sailing time on Hobie 14s, 16s, 18s and 33s. "That was a fun job; that was a great job," Doug explained and inflected his pride in running one of the most successful fiberglass boat manufacturing companies to date. Just ask anyone who is sailing now on our harbor, "What was the first boat you owned?" I bet eight out of 10 people you asked would say, "Hobie Cats." During the time Doug ran Hobie, I bought and sold three 16s myself, and it's the first boat I owned. Other boats Doug sailed and owned were a Santa Cruz 27, a Lido 14 and Twitchell 12s. Unfortunately, Doug hurt his back playing hockey as a kid, and it's kept him out of sailboat racing the last few years.

Doug's back injury did not keep him off the water; after he retired from Hobie Cat, he became a U.S. and international sailing judge. For 15 years, he was chief judge for the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race. He worked at the 1996 Savannah Olympics as a rules judge for the Solings and Tornados, then later in a couple of Pan Am Games.

While I was interviewing Doug, the question came to mind if he had any comments on the state of the harbor and sailing in Newport Beach? "I find it a little distressing what's happening in boating," he explained with concern in his voice. "I think that the city is hurting boating, I really do. There might be a laffer curve on fees, assessments and taxes on boats in Newport Harbor. I have never seen so many open slips and moorings. People are moving to Long Beach and Dana Point, and there comes a point when you get diminishing returns. I feel boating is very important to our harbor." Hearing this type of comment from someone of Doug's stature makes me go hmmm?

Summer is here, and I am skippering the J 109 Linstar in a race around Catalina Island this weekend. Wish me luck.

Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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