Back in time with Dennis Conner

Published on October 9th, 2022

There are eight inductees in the National Sailing Hall of Fame from San Diego Yacht Club, and the bar can be a bit of a who’s-who of yachting. Scuttlebutt HQ is about a 15 minute walk to San Diego Yacht Club and twice that on the way back. The difference is staggering… must be the conversation.

SDYC Commodore in 1984, Dennis Conner was a member of the first induction class in 2011, and his “no excuse to lose” approach forever changed how the sport has been played. In this report from April 1983, the local publication San Diego Reader takes us back to that time:

All is not tranquil at the San Diego Yacht Club. The appearances are deceiving. In the last few weeks, I’ve been frequenting the club and I can report that it often appears to be the most serene spot on earth, an adult Disneyland for people who like their rides in the form of racing yachts and powerboats.

All yacht clubs are happy places, but the San Diego Yacht Club is this town’s most idyllic — the biggest; adorned with the greatest expanses of dark, varnished wood; landscaped with the most elaborate floral displays. Here the rich and powerful wear dungarees as often as they wear dinner jackets. People smile at each other often and sincerely.

But all is not carefree here. Off to one side of the main building, behind the Junior Clubhouse, Dennis Conner is preparing to race a sailboat. Conner, you may know, is a San Diego native, a San Diego State grad, a guy so hooked on sailing that he devotes virtually all his time to it, at the expense of the little drapery business he runs near the Sports Arena.

The next time I hear some ex-New Yorker talking about how life in San Diego makes everyone lazy and unambitious. I’ll think of Conner and of what he’s doing to win the America’s Cup for the second time in a row.

Conner has brought to this corner of the yacht club a work regimen in which the hours are longer and less relenting than those in any garment district sweatshop; he’s injected a competitiveness that matches that of the most high-powered broker elbowing his way across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Some have complained that Conner’s impact on the Cup races has been to make them too serious, too intense. For better or for worse, however, nearly everyone agrees that this new era has been ushered in singlehandedly by the San Diego drapery maker. So it was fitting that the first West Coast commissioning of a yacht vying to race for the America’s Cup should take place at Conner’s yacht club. – Full report

comment banner

Tags: , , ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.