South of Los Angeles and north of San Diego, Newport Beach, California, is a peaceful hub for sailing enthusiasts. Members of SailTime Orange County in Newport Beach can venture out into the Pacific or explore nearby shores at any time of year.
What can you tell me about the history of sailing in Newport Beach?
For over 100 years, Newport Harbor and the Newport Harbor Yacht Club in Newport Beach have provided much enjoyment to residents and visitors in Southern California. The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade has been a main attraction of the area since 1907, drawing thousands of boaters and spectators each year. Deemed the largest recreational harbor on the West Coast, sailing has been a popular pastime for decades. Just look at the abundance of junior sailing programs and all the local sailors who compete in domestic and international regattas, such as the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race. The Newport to Ensenada race is an overnight offshore race from Newport Beach to Ensenada, Mexico, that draws between 300 and 500 boats each year. It’s been going on for over 70 years and is an exciting event for the participants and spectators alike. There is no doubt that sailing is an integral part of the Newport Beach community.
Just 26 miles (41.84 km) from Newport Beach is the sailor’s paradise of Catalina Island. Even before The Four Preps sang the top hit 26 Miles Across the Sea about Catalina Island in the 1950s, Catalina had already made a name for itself. Hollywood’s legends began visiting the island in the late 1920s. The picturesque anchorages and clear water, as well as the lively bars, good restaurants, and colorful shops in the main city of Avalon, make for a great sailing getaway. Almost every sailor’s favorite song is Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills and Nash. If you listen closely, you’ll hear them sing, “In a noisy bar in Avalon, I tried to call you.” Avalon definitely has a few “noisy bars,” including the famous karaoke bar of El Galleon, where you can try to impress the crowd (or embarrass yourself) when you sing your own rendition of Southern Cross.
The climate is arguably the number one reason people like sailing in Newport Beach. It boasts a near-perfect climate for sailing year-round. It never gets too cold, and there are more sunny days in Newport than most other places in the West. The breeze isn’t too strong. It’s a nice, typical 8- to 10-knot place where the weather is protected and the swells aren’t too large — even though you’re in the Pacific. This certainly makes for some smooth sailing!
In addition to the great weather, Newport Beach is located right in the middle of Southern California. This location makes it easy to access many beautiful places to anchor and spend the day. You can sail to Catalina Island for the weekend. You can also sail to San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Laguna Beach, Emerald Bay, and of course, explore Newport Beach. With so many fun options to spend a day or overnight on the boat, sailing in Newport Beach is quite simply a lot of fun!
Chris and Angele Jester are the owners of SailTime Orange County. While getting his Master of Business Administration, Chris spent many nights thinking about how he could get out of the corporate world and start his own business. He worked in the high-tech/telecom industry for a decade before realizing this dream. After Chris met his wife, Angele, the pair spent a year traveling the world, thinking about the business they would someday own. Chris grew up loving the water, and the couple decided they wanted to own a business in the boating industry. They discovered SailTime after some serious research, and they realized it was the perfect fit for them. They opened SailTime Orange County in 2005, with one boat. Today, they have one of the largest fleets in SailTime.
Working alongside Chris and Angele is base manager Tom Collins. He manages member sales, sailing school operations, and fleet operations. Chris focuses on Owner-Members, business management, and handling vendors. Angele handles the accounting, contracts, and the corporate books. SailTime Orange County is welcoming a new office and marketing assistant, Paige. Additionally, the team partners with an esteemed group of USCG captains, some of whom have been providing services to SailTime for over 10 years. Last but not least, the team has sourced industry professionals who clean and maintain the boats.
Chris and Angele have two children, ages 15 and 12, who may someday join the operation!
Chris and Angele wanted a business that would allow them to get to know their clientele. By having a business where clients join for months, years, or even a decade, the Members and Owner-Members feel like they are part of a large family. Here’s a story about one such Owner-Member:
Roger T. loved to sail but is landlocked in Park City, Utah. He had done some sailing in Boston and Florida before he walked into the SailTime Orange County office in 2010. Roger had an office in Irvine, California, which brought him close to Newport Beach about once a month. Roger spent the next five years sailing a Hunter 33 and Hunter 36 as a SailTime Member, while also earning his ASA certifications — starting with 101 and progressing to 104.
Roger used the SailTime membership as a “try before you buy.” He decided that he loved the experience so much that in 2016 Roger expressed interest to Chris that it was time to take his sailing to the next level. Roger had a dream of owning his own boat, and he also needed a sizeable tax write off. In addition, since he lived so far away from the ocean, he needed someone to look after his boat when he wasn’t around. Chris explained SailTime ownership to Roger and introduced him to the new Beneteau 38.1 that had just launched. Chris explained that in exchange for allowing a small group of SailTime Members to use his boat when he wasn’t around, almost all of his boat expenses would be covered. Chris took a consultative approach to assist Roger in choosing the right set of options and upgrades that would make the boat comfortable and attractive to Roger and SailTime Members. Subsequently, Roger ordered a Beneteau 38.1, which was delivered in 2017. He named his new vessel “Providence,” a nod to where he first sailed in Boston.
SailTime Orange County has 13 sailboats. The base currently has two Beneteau Oceanis 45s, each with one open membership available. All other boats are sold out, and SailTime Orange County is currently looking for more Owner-Members. The base can take on a Beneteau anywhere in the size range of the Oceanis 35.1 to a 46.1, and the base can get it filled in about six weeks.
- Beneteau Oceanis 35.1
- Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 (X3)
- Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 (x2)
- Beneteau Oceanis 41
- Beneteau Oceanis 45 (x2)
- Beneteau Oceanis 46.1
- Marlow Hunter E 33
- Lagoon 400 F2
- Lagoon 450