Eight Bells: Linus Ralls

Published on July 29th, 2020

Linus Ralls passed away on July 24, 2020 at his home in Orange, CA. He was one of the world’s great sailors, a loyal friend of many in all walks of life, a teller of funny jokes and great stories, including some that were sort of true. Any boat he was on was faster and also happier as a result of his presence. He did it all on a boat: drive, trim, foredeck, tactics, first aid, cook, rigging, repairs, paint, deliveries and he was such a good fisherman that on long races he was the one person onboard that could get a bonito or a mahi in the ten minutes of “go slow” allotted for catching dinner.

Linus also had a superpower knack of coming up with ingenious solutions to fix difficult problems using only the materials on board and a few items from a small repair kit he always carried. Busted vangs, traveler blow-outs, electrical or hydraulic failure, collision repair and the other sorts of things that take a boat out of a race were not going to stop a boat with Linus aboard. And for really serious things, like sinking or dismasting, Linus was the one guy you wanted to have aboard. Absolutely heroic.

Ashore, Linus worked as a carpenter, painter, boat maintenance worker and an all-around fix-it guy. He was not a conventional career type, preferring to work on his own schedule so he could drop everything and go off on a race, a fishing or dive trip, or a side gig he had working for a timber grower on remote Canadian islands. He loved it up there as it combined all of his passions: fishing, boats, working hard, wilderness, wildlife, problem solving and being around people who knew, as he did, how lucky they all were to be there.

Linus did several Transpacs, Mexico races (including a couple dozen Ensenada races), Coastal Cups, Big Boat Series, and buoy and off-shore races in the US, Mexico and Canada. He raced on all kinds of boats, big and small, and they all had a habit of winning. He also delivered boats throughout the eastern Pacific.

Linus never married and had no children. His parents and a brother predeceased him. Linus was not a particularly religious person but he once told a skipper that he wasn’t sure there was a Hell but knew there was a Heaven. The skipper asked him how he knew and Linus replied “Every time I am first around the weather mark, get a clean set in clear air I know there is a God and a Heaven.”

Farewell, dear friend Linus. You were such a good friend to so many of us in so many ways. We know you have rounded your last mark with a good set in clear air and you entered Heaven with a big lead and a great big grin on your face. – Rex Mallot

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