On the Harbor: Catching up with my good friend Mark Gaudio 


I picked up the phone this week and called my good friend Mark Gaudio for an interview. If you have ever raced a Sabot, Lido 14, Harbor 20 or Cal 20 the name should be familiar to you.

Gaudio was first introduced to the harbor in the ‘60s by his father, Ed, who first owned a 20-foot Glasspar powerboat. “I remember doing speed circles in the Back Bay with my dad,” Gaudio said. His father was an electrician and after working on a house on Lido Isle, the owner gave him the old Sabot on the side of the house. “I think I was six and my father had painted the boat with some sort of latex house paint in some ‘60s color. We rigged the boat up and went sailing. Just about the time we reached the Lido Isle Yacht Club, we gybed the boat, while dad was sitting on the main sheet, and we flipped the boat,” Gaudio explained.

The Gaudio family was very active in the Orange Coast Yacht Club, which had its clubhouse at the American Legion. Later, the club would merge with the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club and the Gaudios where there for the groundbreaking of the clubhouse now located on Bayside. “I have a photo of dad somewhere with him planting a shovel into the ground on the club grounds.”

Gaudio recalled fond memories on the harbor now lost in time. “We used to sail our boat over to Shark Island, now Linda Isle, and play Army. From there we would walk over the Pacific Coast Highway bridge to Will Wrights for ice cream. Summer days seemed to have the wind blowing 10 knots out of the west. We could pull our boats up onto a beach at the Fun Zone and goof around there, or we would sail up to the 19th Street beach and go to Tasty Freeze. Sometimes Phil Ramming and I would just fill our boats with water balloons and throw them at people on Balboa Island. You cannot do that now, but it sure was a lot of fun then,” Gaudio recalled.

Mark and Len

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Photo by Joysailing.com

(L-R): Mark Gaudio and Len Bose

Today, Gaudio spends most of his time on the harbor coaching sabot sailors. During the summer he has more requests for coaching than he can handle, while during the winter he coaches Friday afternoons for BCYC and gives private lessons on Saturdays. He is the go-to guy when it comes to finding the racing sabot our just tuning one up. “Tuning a sabot is all about mast rake, leeboard angle and a vertical rudder,” Gaudio said. Most sailors in the harbor who have been coached by him recall the words: “Get off your knees.”

I asked Gaudio what are the dos and don’ts for sabot parents? “Parents can be overly competitive, which can lead to performance anxiety at the wrong time. Sailing is a hard sport, with many variables, weather included, it can be frustrating…sometimes physical, but mostly mental. Once a kid starts moving up, stay away from move up itis,” Gaudio said.

Gaudio explained that one of his concerns today is that there is too much focus on racing, with not enough attention on just harbor exploring and having fun. There are some kids out there today that will not leave the dock without a coach. In the end game he feels that this is hurting our sport.

So, before we ended the interview I asked for some simple bits of advice that I can write on my notepad. “Don’t pinch in light air, keep the boat moving, always look around to assess your competition. The wind in our harbor is the trickiest when it is coming out of the southwest with a bearing from 200 to 245 degrees, when you should focus on connecting the dots. When the wind is left at 200 degrees, consider going left; when it is right of 240 degrees, consider the right side of the course. Remember that you have a lot of traffic in the harbor to stay away from, and he always reminds his students to anticipate the high odds maneuvers of competitors.

This Saturday, the Harbor 20 fleet will be racing in the Earl Corkett Regatta out of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. At BYC, the Lido 14s will be gathering on Sunday for the Harry Wood Regatta. And, the PHRF fleet will be sailing out of BCYC to Catalina on Saturday and returning on Sunday in the Bogart Race.

Keep it fun everyone.

Sea ya! 


Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.