SAIL

The Legacy

On this idyllic California summer morning, Soncy, a classic 40ft Rhodes-designed sloop built in 1957, is on her way to Santa Catalina Island. On board are owner John Clark Jr., his 10-year-old son, Ian, and me. As we motor out of New-port Harbor while raising the sails, two other sailboats come within shouting distance, and their skippers giving us a thumbs-up. “Beautiful!” one of them shouts across the water. John, used to frequent compliments about his boat, waves in return. Well-deserved compliments, I might add. Soncy is impeccably maintained, her classic lines drawn by one of the most renowned yacht designers of that era.

As we clear the breakwater, the rumble of the engine is extinguished and Soncy’s dark blue hull slices smoothly through the azure waters off Orange County. A leisurely five-hour sail lies ahead.

I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of sailing many times in recent years. John Clark, however, has never known a time that was not a part of his sailing experience. His grandfather Bill Clark taught his grandson, practically from infancy, to appreciate the ocean and boats. John recalls his first voyage to Catalina when he was 4 years old, his father and grandfather taking turns at the helm. It was love at first sight with the palm-studded island. A half century and many dozens of voyages later, the love affair continues.

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