Sailing in Newport Harbor

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For those of you who enjoy the Waterfront column, starting with this issue I will also have an occasional column about sailboats, sailboat races, sailboat builders, and the sailors themselves in and around Newport Harbor; past, present and future.

As I have noted in past Waterfront columns, our world class, world famous harbor has a history of world class sailors of notoriety and winning records. In my future columns I will cover local youth and adult sailors and sailboats.

Several young sailors who grew up here have sailed around the world. Some have written books and had motion pictures produced about their exploits. Others have become national champions and then raced internationally as adults.

We’ve had movie stars keep their sailboats in Newport Harbor and some have raced in our local regattas. We’ve had business moguls keep their race winning sailboats in our harbor and they went on to win regattas all over the world.

As I was growing up in the 1950s there were wooden sailboats still being built in our area that campaigned locally, nationally and internationally. Other style local wooden sailboats cruised our area, our country and some even sailed around the world. In the 1960s and 1970s fiberglass sailboats were manufactured by the hundreds locally, and many of the designers and/or manufacturers also sailed their products on cruises and races in Newport Harbor and other areas.

We still have a few sailboat manufacturers locally. Schock, MacGregor and Colombia quickly come to mind, who were able to absorb the high cost of real estate and stay local. Many builders moved on to Florida and other areas where the costs were much lower, enabling them to be more competitive with their costs.

Our local high school sailing teams for quite awhile have given their competitors all over the country a good run for their money. The Newport Harbor Sea Scouts, like their high school brethren, have been national champions many, many times.

Being able to boat year round in our harbor has been a great advantage for our sailors. We are the envy of boaters across the U.S. and even internationally.

In the future I will share with you the older sailboats with the names like “Sirius II,” “Newsboy,” “Ticonderoga,” “Columbia,” and “Chubasco.” We’ll share stories and photos of builders such as Kettenberg, Lapworth, and Calkins. We’ll also bring you up-to-date with the fiberglass sleds that win the Transpac and Ensenada races.

From Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, and Walter Cronkite to Richard Branson and Chris Welch, we’ll do our best to inform you of our sailing past, present and future. Sailing is as much a part of Newport Harbor as salt is to our air!


Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

Steve Barrett has more than 50 years of boating experience in Newport Beach and performs systems checks and repairs on yachts. Email him at [email protected]

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