The Harbor Report: After 34 years on the harbor, an ode to Joyce

I talked to another of my favorite people from the harbor this week. Joyce Ibbetson, who has been the boating program director for UC Irvine for the past 34 years, took some time to answer a few of my questions.

I first met Joyce when I was a student at Orange Coast College and participated on the sailing team in 1982. At that time, she was involved in coaching the UCI sailing team, and both schools sailed out of the OCC rowing and sailing facility here in town.

Joyce grew up in Los Angeles and started sailing at the California Yacht Club's junior program in Marina del Rey. She attended UCLA and also was on the sailing team. After completing graduate school at USC, she returned to UCLA to coach sailing. She then was recruited by UCI to head the boating program in 1979 and has been there ever since. Over the past 34 years she has been in charge of the sailing, rowing and kayaking programs for UCI as well as the city of Newport Beach's sailing programs.

When I asked what her fondest memory as the boating director is, she replied, "It has to have been giving students access to the harbor and watching boating become a big part in their lives. We also founded the Anteater Regatta, which is a high school sailing regatta, and we founded the sailing team coaches' conferences that US Sailing is now running." During her tenure, she has replaced the 30-foot Shields sailboats with new J/22's and has started kayaking and stand-up paddle board lessons.

I then asked her what has been her biggest challenge. "Working with the ongoing budget restrictions has been difficult and will be overcome with time," she said. "We are also facing the problem of finding a new location to run our sailing programs from. Our lease with Orange Coast College will expire in two years, and we have been working with the city to find a new home."

Some time within the next couple of months, Joyce will be retiring, so I asked what the future has in store for her. "I plan on heading to Idaho and Europe this fall and doing some bike riding," she said with excitement in her voice. "Then I am going to see what types of doors open up and spend time with my friends, family and spend more time sailing again."

When asked to list three bullet points for the new boating director to make him or her effective, she replied, "Balance the past with the new, understand the old and make your own mark going forward. Don't sweat the small stuff and make sure you make time to go out on the water and sail. It's always good to look from the outside in."

Joyce has been on the harbor for some time now, so I had to ask her to comment on the state of our harbor. "It has gotten more crowded, which is good and bad," she said. "It's going to take more coordination with the harbor users to make sure events are planned. We need to keep educating people on water safety to avoid accidents when people are not knowledgeable. It's a good and bad challenge."

After racing in last Tuesday night's Taco Tuesdays out of Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, a large group of J/22 sailors came down to the club for the awards presentation. The interaction between the UCI sailing club members, other harbor sailors and club members is priceless. The amount of access to the harbor the UCI boating programs provides is unmeasurable and, from my point of view, another one of our harbor's most valuable tools. If anyone from the nautical museum reads my column, I hope you will consider adding Joyce Ibbetson to our harbor's Extraordinary People Gallery. The service she has provided the community has set the bar at a new height and should be reflected upon by others who love the harbor as much as she does. We will miss you, Joyce, although something tells me we will still be seeing you on the water and making our harbor a better place.

Sea ya.

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

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