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Looking Back

April 29, 2001

Young Chang

Let it first be said that we're talking about the Bahia Corinthian

Yacht Club. Not the Balboa Bay Club, not the Balboa Yacht Club, and

definitely not the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.

Get this wrong and you're in for some pain, former commodores of the

Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club joke. With the history that they have in

mind, and the efforts to find a unique name as well as own their own

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property, it's no wonder they're proud of their identity.

Known at this time of year as the party place on the eve of the

Newport to Ensenada Race, the Bahia Corinthian boasts a history few

non-boaters know.

Founded in 1958 by 10 yachtsmen, the first version of the group was

called the Bahia Yacht Club and leased a room from the Balboa Bay Club.

But one of the first things members did was change its name -- they added

"Corinthians" to the title so as not to share an acronym with the Balboa

Yacht Club.

"Corinthians" means an amateur, nonprofessional yachtsman, said Lorin

Weiss, the original vice commodore for the club. "Bahia" means bay and

was also the name of the boat belonging to the group's very first

commodore, Don Bussey.

In 1968, the club joined with the Orange Coast Yacht Club, of which

Weiss was a founding member. They chose to go by the name "Bahia

Corinthian Yacht Club" because of the recognition commodore Pat Dougan

had brought to the club when he purchased the 12-meter Columbia, a boat

that had won the America's Cup a decade earlier.

"Pat Dougan became famous in yachting circles," said Brian Carter,

also a founding member who joined the club in 1964. "With Dougan's

stature, we were able to negotiate for the purchase of the old

Richardson's Yacht Anchorage."

This was a big deal for the club.

"In the '60s, the primary interest of most yacht club members here was

to race, and to race you had to belong to a yacht club that was a member

of the Southern California Yachting Organization, and to do that you had

to be a dues-paying member of a yacht club," Carter explained.

Which is why many clubs of that day were formed merely on

"letterhead."

But the Bahia Corinthian did not at that time buy the anchorage on

which it still sits today. Instead, they leased the property --

including land and marina -- from the Irvine Co. until 1993, when they

finally purchased it.

"We grew and prospered through trials and tribulations and that sort

of thing," Weiss said. "We built the present clubhouse and moved in in

1971. We're one of the few yacht clubs on the West Coast that owns its

own yacht club, land and marina."

* Do you know of a person, place or event that deserves a historical

Look Back? Let us know. Contact Young Chang by fax at (949) 646-4170;

e-mail at young.chang@latimes.com; or mail her at c/o Daily Pilot, 330 W.

Bay St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

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