Newport Beach Rendezvous Feb. 23, 2002

Pictures at Joe Bennett's Columbia Cruising Club web site.

Hi all,

Our rendezvous in Newport Beach was a SUCCESS ! 1st of all , the weather was absolutley perfect. Ginny & I & son Ken & his girlfriend Suzie & her mom sailed our 26 ll Summer Breeze from Alamitos Bay on a broad reach in 8 to 10 kts breeze & 80 degrees of sunshine.

As we got to Newport, we passed a very nice Col.34, returning to our home marina: they had just come down to sail by the raft up to say hi: then when we arrived in the bay, we picked up Mike Fellows at the Pavilion & continued to the raft up - an add'l 3/4 mile. There were three Col 50's in one group, & Smith's Col 45 & Allen Karr's Defender, that we joined up to, in a second group. Soon, Keith Kline sailed by in his 5.5 Saber to say hi, & shortly after that, Jim Jacobsen's Col 29 arrived & moored close by. Finally, Steve Washburn arrived in Gypsy, Col 52 & rafted up with the 50's. The 50's were Joe Bennets Allure, Roger Fitzwilson's Windstorm , & Bob Morrison's La OTRA MUJER. Dick & Vince Valdes were there when we arrived, in an electric boat.

It was discovered, while Dick was visiting La OTRA, that this boat was originally owned by Dick himself, & he recognized & recalled many special things that he had done to it . There were people all over the boats out there, must have been around 30 to 35. I counted about 9 on our 26 ll at one time. A couple of guys were coming out of the inside of it, remarking that they didn't know whose boat this was, but we sure had great snacks there! ( Ginny is good at that kind of stuff ) ha ha. I even got to visit with Dick & Vince, the 3 of us, sitting in the salon of Summer Breeze, for 15 or 20 minutes. There fellows are friendly , approachable,down to earth guys & are a real pleasure to be around.

Mike Fellows was climbing all over the boats, meeting everyone & then I bumped into this guy I didn't recognize, & it was Mike Keers! He had driven 12 hrs, all night to get there, & it was a great surprise for everyone that he was able to come.

I took our 3 gals to the Pavilion for a potty break & was hailed by Lauri, from the LOG Newspaper. It's one of our two major west coast boating newspapers. I took her out to the boats, where she took a lot of pictures & interviewed several people. Pretty soon, I returned her to shore( she couldn't stay for the evenings program ) & I found a half dozen driver inners waiting to get a ride to visit the boats. It was about 4:30 PM by then, & it was too late for that, so Ginny & I went back to freshen up for the evening program.

The Chevron gas dock, next door to the Pavilion graciously let us use a 30' dock for our sail inners dingy's, during the dinner.

Our banquet room was upstairs, overlooking the bay. 9 or 10 round tables & a delicious buffet were ready for us . People were putting faces to e-addresses, everybody meeting the Valdes's, plus Paul Rodreguez & his wife Merci were there. Paul was the mold shop supervisor / mgr. when I worked at Columbia in 1970 to 73. He is still with Dick, at Mediterranean Yachts as his general manager today. It was good to see him again.

Roger Fitzwilson was also recognised as an exemplarirly attirred Columbia owner, as he was there in a tuxedo ! A black one. Now, that's class, folks.

Ginny had prepared CYOA name tags & programs for everyone & they were at each place setting. Dick & several other folks brought historical photos, brochures & specs sheets to share. Very good stuff!

We all got fed some wonderful food & our fun really began at 7 PM. We had door prizes; a couple of dingy nav lights, two, 1 yr free subscriptions to Good Old Boat magazine,& a coupon for everyone there, for a free issue of Good Old Boat magazine. Thanks to Karen Larson, editor. There were two $ 50.00 " Minney Money " certificates given out, thanks to Ernie Minney. Then we had some Certificates / awards to give out. Ginny made these & were very professional. Dick Valdes was recognized as the founder of Columbia Yachts & made the Honary Captain of our fleet . Michael Andersen was awarded the " trip of best intentions ", even though he had to drive from San Diego, after all. ( It was the effort, more than the trip itself ) Mike Keers & Mike Fellows were recognised for their work in giving us C-NUZ. Jim Jacobson, Col 29 " Grace Sea " was awarded " Prettiest Columbia " certificate. There were a couple more awards given out, but had to be mailed to their surprise recipiants, so you will all have to find out who they were when they get them. They don't know they are getting them yet.

Finally, we got to listen to Mr. Valdes tell us some never before heard of stuff about Columbia's history & how it grew to br the largest sailboat manufacturer in the world.

As Bob Nowak posted earlier, we could have listened to Dick for hours, but time flew, the band at the wedding next door got louder, & we all just had a really happy & interesting time of it all. There were 60 Columbia people there.

Ginny & I sailed home this afternoon by ourselves. It was the most beautiful sail to windward we have ever enjoyed. All the way to Alamitos Bay on one port tack. Ralph, the tillerpilot, did all the work. Ginny made snacks, & napped, I messed around with the sails & generally enjoyed the heck out of it all.

Thank all of you who came, & encouraged this rendezvous to happen & we are looking forward to next year. May be in San Diego. If you would like me to, I'll post a list of all the folks that were there, later, but it's late Sunday PM & I'm really bushed. It has been a very, very busy weekend for Ginny & I.

Regards, Doug Ward .

Bob Nowak's report:

Looks like I知 the first to check in about the West Coast get together in Newport Beach yesterday. I知 not really the one to tell you much about the activities; I値l leave that up to Doug Ward. I just wanted to tell everyone that it was the most enjoyable get together I have attended in a long time! My guess is that around 50 people got to hear Mr., Valdes tell about the way Columbia came about. He told many very interesting sea stories about the boats and the company as it progressed from a sideline of his other businesses to the largest Sailboat manufacturer in the country. He answered a lot of questions about how the individual boats came into being. He spoke for over an hour and it went by in just a few minutes. I could have listened to him for another two hours. One thing we did learn is that his son, Vince, owns the Columbia name and when someone asked about using the logo, Mr. Valdes said, 的知 sure he won稚 mind. I took that to mean we are free to use the logo as much as we want for PERSONAL USE! (Emphasis mine; we don稚 want to take advantage, do we?)

Personally, the thing that made it so enjoyable, besides hearing Mr. Valdes, was getting to meet so many people in person. I had met Dave and Lisa Smith before, but no one else from the list. I got to spend time with Alex Bustemonte and his crew Bruce and Jennifer Nelson (? I hope I have that right), Mike Keers, Mike Fellows, Mike Anderson and many others. The only down side for me was that I had trouble finding parking so I missed going out to the raft up. I understand that there were three 50痴 at least one, maybe two 45痴 and several other boats making for a raft of 7 or 8 boats.

Major kudos go to Doug Ward and his wife for all the work they did setting this thing up and hosting it. We had Name tags, programs, door prizes, a fabulous meal at a restaurant overlooking beautiful Newport Harbor. Doug even found a motel that gave us a good rate. Thanks again Doug for a great time.

Oh! One other thing. Mike Keers was commissioned by Good Old Boat to do a history on Columbia. It will be in the next issue.

Here is Doug Ward's official list of folks who were at the Newport, Feb 23rd rendezvous.

   Dick Valdes, founder of Columbia , our guest speaker
   Vince Valdes, Dick's son & probably a future famous person
   Paul Rodreguez & Merci, Columbia mold shop mgr & still with Valdes
#  Doug & Ginny Ward, hosts, Alamitos Bay, C-26 MkII
   Steve Hirsh, Ginny's son
   Ken Hirsh , Ginny's son & Suzie Ochoa, Ken's girlfriend & her mom, Delphina
   Mike Fellows, editor of C-NUZ, Buffalo, NY, C-33
   Mike Keers, CYOA co-founder & former editor of C-Nuz, way past Tuscon, AZ.
   Bob Nowak, San Diego, Challenger
   Michael & Mrs. Andersen, San Diego, C-22
   Alex Bustamante, Concord, C-26 MkII
   Bruce & Judy Nelson, Alex's crew, Berkley
#  Dave & Lisa Smith, San Diego, C-45
   Lenny & Mrs. Gordon, Marina Del Rey, C-26 MkII
   Brett Contreras & friend, Long Beach, Ericson 35
#  Joe Bennett & Annie, San Diego, C-50
#  Steve Washburn & kids ( 2 ), Long Beach, C-52
#  Jim Jacobson, Dana Point, C-29
   Suzanne & Joe Winterhawk, Marina Del Rey, C-43
#  Allen Karr, Dana Point, Defender
   Christine Carr (Galley chief )& Krzysztof Galbas, Santa Barbara, C-45
   Mary Kate Reed, Ventura, C-9.6
   Doug Swanson, Berkeley, C-28 MkII
   Les Merrill, PO of Doug's C-28 MkII
#  Roger Fitzwilson & 2 guests, San Diego, C-50
   Wayne Terry & guest, San Diego, C-50
   Dr Chuck May & guest, San Diego, C-50
   Ron & Valerie Hoskins, Alamitos Bay, C-43
   Gary Neville, Marina Del Rey, C-50
#  Robert Morrison & guest, Newport Beach, C-50
   Herb Worsham & guest, Mission Viejo, C-43
   Kendall Alton, Orange County, C-50    
   Bruce & Mrs.Clark, Alamitos Bay, 8.3
   Steve Knoblock & 2 guests                             
   Keith Kline also sailed by & said hi, Newport, 5.5 Saber
  ( # indicates Boat in raft up )