Harbor 20 Sailors – Focus on Phyllis Drayton

This week, I took the opportunity to learn about Phyllis Drayton and the good times she is having on our harbor.

015_Phyllis_Drayton_and_Anne_SchupakI first met Phyllis sitting across from her and her husband George at last year’s Harbor 20 awards banquet. After I introduced myself, she said, “Len Bose, ooh, I read your articles. You know, my son John also writes a boating column in the local paper.” This perked my ears and made me sit up a little straighter.

I have come to learn that Phyllis’ family owned a home on Balboa Island in the 1930s-1950s and sailed an eight-foot Balboa Dinghy, a predecessor to today’s Sabot. She and her sister Ann moved up to race Snowbirds and competed in many of the Flight of the Snowbirds races.

She then became involved at the Balboa Island Yacht Club and became the club’s secretary in the early 1950s, all the while staying active in the Snowbirds, Lehman 10 and Sabot fleets. After moving off the island, she returned in the 1980s and ’90s to teach young mothers how to sail. Her son John said, “I’m still surprised occasionally to hear from someone who was taught to sail by mom on Balboa Island.

“She first started racing at NHYC in 1946, 67 years ago! She has raced more or less continuously since then.”

In 1985, she was the senior Sabot national champion and enjoyed competing in the Mother Sabot Amazon Race around Lido Isle. Phyllis was one of the earliest members of the Mother Sabot group started at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club in the early 1970s and remained active for the next 40 years as a Sabot mom. As a family, the Draytons spent many summers at Moonstone Cove on Catalina Island on their Cal 25 and Cal 29.

The Draytons were one of the original five people to purchase a Harbor 20 in the early 1990s. John explained the purchase: “Mom and Dad bought Harbor 20 No. 5, ‘Whim’; it was actually Mom [and not Dad] who put the money down for this boat. First group on the bay — their boat was actually No. 3, but she felt 3 was an unlucky number, so she had it changed!”

The Draytons have been very active in the Harbor 20 fleet over the last 20 years. Most of the time, it’s been George and Phyllis out on the water together with an occasional appearance from one of their three sons and one of their grandchildren.

This type of family tradition of boating in our harbor is now approaching four generations, within many families, and it’s something that truly inspires me in many ways. Like the Draytons, I live for the day I will sail in the harbor with my son and grandchild. This type of family longevity on the harbor needs to be more recognized and appreciated now and in the future.

You might have noticed how big I am on our local fleets and yacht clubs’ award nights, and we still have two big events this week. Newport Harbor Yacht Club is had its annual meeting last Saturday, which was perfect for me because most of the Harbor 20 class will be attending and then trying to race Sunday afternoon.

NHYC awards one of our harbor’s most prestigious awards, the Burgee of Merit. The criteria for receiving the Burgee of Merit include competing in the Olympic Games, winning a major world championship or bringing unusual distinction to West Coast yachting in general. This award is not given every year, so it’s always interesting if anyone will take this baby home this year. I will be attending the Harbor 20 awards night on Sunday, and there is a rumor that there is a new award being presented.

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

Harbor 20 Sailors – Focus on Phil Ramser

If ever there was a person who should be our harbor’s ambassador, it is Phillip Ramser. I have never met a more congenial person in this harbor. This is why I write this column — I get to pick up the phone and ask people like Phil if we could talk.

phil ramserPhil was born in West Los Angeles, attended the local schools, went to college at USC and later served in the Air Force.

Phil’s father, Hal Ramser, purchased a Kettenburg 46-foot PCC hull No. 5 by the name of Antigua. When Phil was 15, one of our harbor’s local sailors, George Strong, asked Hal if he would like to put a group of sailors together and race in the San Diego Yacht Club’s Lipton Cup. The crew included Darby Metcalf, Harry Bourgeois, Kenny Watts and Hilyard Brown.

“This was the very first race I had ever sailed in,” Phil said with excitement in his voice, as if it was only yesterday. “I was assigned to the pit and was allowed to come on deck, to hold out the main out, on the downwind runs. We came into the last race at the leeward mark with inside overlap on Mr. Kettenburg and headed toward the finish. We tacked 24 times on that final leg to beat the San Diego Yacht Club.”

The Lipton Cup has always been the most sought-after sailing trophy in Southern California, and Phil was on the winning crew in his very first sailboat race.

Phil was next introduced to the Snipe fleet by Metcalf. For most of the 1950s, he sailed locally and around the country following the Snipe fleet.

“We had a great time,” he said.

In the ’50s, Phil served in the Air Force, and upon his return home sailed Antigua for a number of years and did very well in our local offshore races.

After he sold Antigua, he moved into the Etchells 22-foot fleet and helped develop the fleet in Newport Beach and Europe.

“We sailed Etchells all around the world — Australia, England, Hong Kong and Scotland,” he explained. “We would have boats built in Scotland and race these boats, then sell them, and we did this for about three years in a row. That’s how the Etchells fleet started in Europe.”

Somewhere, Phil found time to sail 5.5 meters in Europe with Tom Omohundro and Harry “Buddy” Melges before becoming commodore of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Just about this time, he purchased a New York 36 by the name of Vidiot and campaigned that through most of the ’80s in our local PHRF fleet.

Taking a short break from owning his own boat in the early ’90s, Phil played a role in developing the concept of the Harbor 20.

“We needed to find five people who wanted a boat, so we did, and now the fleet has over 30 boats racing in most of the events,” he said.

I asked Phil what he thinks are the biggest challenges facing the harbor in the next 40 years.

“I would like to see the anchorage moved back to where it was originally located on the west end of Lido Isle,” he said with concern in his voice. “With the addition of Marina Park, the harbor will become increasingly restrictive in the anchorage area now. That disturbs me, and we should do what we can to mitigate that.”

I asked who his sailing mentors were and who he thought was the fastest sailor in the harbor. Names like Metcalf, Bill Ficker and Tommy Frost quickly came to mind.

“We have had a multitude of good sailors come out of our area,” Phil said.

When asked again who he felt was the fastest sailor, he quickly replied Jon Pinckney. “He is amazing how he watches the water, amazing guy on how he picks up on the wind,” Phil said.

Last, I asked who he liked to beat the most on the race course.

“I never had someone I would go after,” he explained. He would like to beat Bill Menninger, he said with a laugh. Long ago, I enjoyed racing against my old friend Don Ayres, and it was fun competing against him.

“I have never have had any contentious rivalries,” he said with pride. “I’ve been able to get along with everyone rather well. It’s all good.”

If you have never met Phil Ramser, I suggest you introduce yourself, because the way I see it, he is one of our harbor’s amazing guys.

Sea ya.

Len Bose

Keeping Warm in Winter.

This time of year is difficult for me because the next three months we only get to race one weekend a month. What can we do to stay warm?

I try to get out and practice at least twice during each month. It’s rather difficult for me to drag my son with me, so most of the time I am single handed. Below is my routine and maybe we can get a few more ideas or questions in the comment section below?

Practice starts. I will go out to M mark and then find a mooring ball that will make for the best starting line for the wind that day. I have two starting approaches, port approach for when I want the pin and the committee boat start.

I will start my watch for a two minute count down and keep it rolling until I get tired of the exercise. Then I decided the type of approach I will be practicing and do a couple of circles in that area of the starting line. At about 55 seconds to the start I set up at the starting line and try to hold the boat stationary for about 30 seconds. Experiment with your placement to hold position. Make a clear countdown from 15 seconds down to zero while you accelerate to full speed. This gives you some idea how long, and from what starting angle you can get to full speed in the approximate wind.

Now you have just completed one of your starts time to practice mark rounding.

Pin Start

Mark rounding. After the start go to weather for about five boat lengths then turn downwind and head for your mark. For me its M mark, next I will round the mark in full race mode as if I am returning to the weather mark. After you round the mark, look back, you should be able to see how well you rounded. If you see you are about two boat lengths wide do it again. You want your port stern quarter almost touching the mark as you sail on the new up wind leg. While rounding, I stand up and pull in my main sheet with two hands and balance the tiller with my legs. Find out what works best for you.

Be sure to note, if the tide is coming in our out and notice the difference in your rounding.

After you have rounded the mark go back to starting. Do this about five times and you will get your adrenaline pumping and feel like accomplishing something. Every so often, I will pick a weather mark and just concentrate on my up wind speed as a type of break.

Start practicing now and if you can fit in five practice days between now and Midwinters

you might just achieve that next goal sooner than you think.

If you would like to join me sometime drop me a note.

Sea ya

Last Weekend Regattas Recap

I hope all of you Fleet 1 Harbor 20 sailors enjoyed your off season? The way I read our racing calendar New Years has passed us already and we are into 2014.

The first race of the 2014 High Point Series was Balboa Yacht Clubs Sunkist sailed on November 2nd . Racers where greeted by the sunny warm 70 degree, Indian Summer still lingering into the late fall. In fact, it was so warm that Gary Thorne decided just to step right into the bay about half hour before the first start.

Thirty boats showed up on the starting line with three boats in C’s, nineteen boats in B’s and eight in A’s. The normal reaching starts off the BYC racing tower turned into weather starting line with the wind coming in from the south. This always makes for good excitement with the clubs and harbor masters dock an immediate obstruction.

Fortunately the winds where light and it was easy to sail away from the dock. Although the deputy on duty, in the harbor department, felt the fleet was sailing to close to the emergency dock and demanded, over the public address system, that the fleet stay one boat length from their dock.

In B fleet Steve Kent took the first place points. B fleet is always extremely strong in the Sunkist with nineteen boats entered. Most of the fleet are sailors looking for that first place finish to return back to A fleet.

In A fleet, looking at the final results five of the eight racers tied for first in points and a tie breaker procedure was used . In the first race of the day, five boats crossed the finish line within a boat length of each other. In the second race the breeze filled into about ten knots. Ed Kimball came out of the first tack in the lead and sailed the whole race extremely smart and held it to the end. After his pre race dunk, Gary Thorne warmed up and placed second in the last race to take second for the day. Both Ed and Gary took home pickle dishes.

November 3rd Sunday was the start of the Newport Harbor Yacht Clubs Winter Series. With thirty two Harbor 20’s making it out to the starting line. The breeze was again on the light side and out of the south. C fleet had 2 participants with Diane Menninger taking the helm of D Art and Mark Conzelman aboard Shana’s Secret. The largest fleet was again B fleet with nineteen boats. Carter Ford was able to consistently find the breeze up at the weather mark, in front of NHYC, and sailing by himself he was able to stretch out, from the fleet, on the runs. A fleet had eleven boats looking for the breeze at the weather mark. Coming out the mooring field and finding that lane without adding two extra tacks seemed to be the ticket to rounding the weather mark in the top part of the fleet.

My son Andrew and I won the day and for what its worth this is what I noticed on the course. We had two weather marks one in front NHYC and one over more to the right, closer to the Lido channel. I noticed more breeze on the left side of the course and told myself if we where using the left mark I would lean that way after the start. With the starting line being fairly square I wanted the top third of the line and a clean lane. This seemed to work for me because in all three races we rounded the weather mark in the top three.

Good times on the water and looking forward to next months winter series. NHYC winter series is the next high point race on December 8th.

March 21, 2012 Spring twilight’s at M Mark

We had the perfect spring day, 8-12knots of breeze, out of the west. Warm at the start and the jackets started to appear as the sun set.

We had four boats and completed 5 races of 2 v 2 windward leewards. Mike Pinckney was our designated coach and provided simple instructions at the mark rounding. From the starting boat I was able to learn a lot on how this whole Team Race thing works. I am encouraging you all to try this format of sailing. I promise you will improve your sailing skills and find another reason to use your boat. Next week come on down and give it a try! Everyone is welcomed to help me in the starting boat?

This weeks participants were Diane & Steve Kent, John Fradkin, Mike Pinckney, Alex Steele, Shannon Heausler, Jon Novack, & Jeff Tolan.  Walter Johnson and Linda Pierce did a fly by, promised to attend next week and made a beverage for the Kent’s before sailing off into the sunset.  Other people that called me and said they would be down next week was Peter Haynes, Bill Menninger , Judi Gorski & Marry Bacon.

This is starting to feel like it’s going to be a FUN series that will turn into something much larger! We also had a great time sitting around the fire at BYC after the race, which to tell you the truth is almost more fun than racing.

Sea ya Next week!


Len Bose


H20 Team Racing, Tomorrow, for Beginners


Not sure if you noticed? It’s Spring and the sun is out and the breeze should be between 8-12 knots tomorrow. Even if your boats at the Baldwin Cup we should be able to find a boat for yea. We are meeting at M Mark 5:30ish to about 7:00, Team racing practice for everyone interested. Keep in mind this is more like a clinic/practice than a race. Just coming down and watching from the committee boat will help you sail faster! Please RSVP at boseyachts@Mac.com or call me at (714) 916-0200.

More team racing tips


Spring Twilights Team Racing

Spring twilights are upon us and with the time change we have the opportunity to start sailing Wednesday nights starting March 21 at M mark. I will have a course set by 5:30 and we will start racing once we have 4 boats.

We are going to try a new twist this year and offer “team racing” (see video here). I would like to try to encourage 6 boats to attend and we can handle as many as 12.

A lot of you, if not all of you have been asked to lend out your boats and come along and take part in the “team racing” format. This has attracted some very highly skilled sailors and has made it difficult for the average yacht club sailor to participate in. I thought it would be a good time for fleet 1 members to give “team racing” a try?

The racing will be very low key and lean more towards a clinic, rather than yacht club challenges. Send an email to boseyachts @mac.com an let me know if you can make it?

Hope to sea ya Wednesday March 21!

Len Bose

(714) 916-0200


Spring Twilights at M Mark

3-16-10 Newport Beach, CA Balboa Yacht Club.

The Spring Twilights have started with 11 H20 signed up and 10 boats making it to the starting line off M Mark. The racers where greeted with a 6 knot cool breeze from the west and strong flooding current.

Jeff Keenen was our PRO with Chris Killian and John Fradkin helping with markset. With the current and the breeze constantly moving to the south all three members of the race committee stayed busy. If there where not moving marks and passing out beverages they where taking photos of the fleet. Race committee was able to get off 3 races before the breeze turned off and the sun was setting.

This being our first event everyone seemed as if it was the first day of school. By the time we rounded the second leeward mark people where asking for room and if there no agreement people reminded their friends of the up coming rules seminar. Which is kind of funny if you think about it.

Quotes of the night. “Hey, you guys want a Beverage?’ and the reply “UUHH OK” and while sailing to the leeward mark and asking Tom Schock if he had an overlap YES was the quick reply, about tens seconds latter “Well maybe not” then the calls of room started. I knew that he had an overlap for most of that run and the only time we broke it was when I first asked and they regained it in no time. So, the inside was theirs this time.

At the end of the night with the sun going down and the sound of the colors being lowered at BYC that spring smile returned to my face as I looked into the sky and I thought how I love this time of year at M Mark.

We are always looking for race committee and I think we will need someone next Wednesday?

Results can be found here.

1 2