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EIGHT BELLS - Chris Corlett
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The Publisher

Nov 28, 2012, 1:16 PM

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It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of Chris Corlett (61 years), who died in his sleep on November 23, 2012 in Alameda, CA.

The San Francisco sailing community has lost one of the best all-around sailors that have ever sailed the Bay. Chris was a kind and giving individual who loved his kids, sailing, and having fun on sailboats. His laugh was contagious and he was one of the most honest and forthright professional in the Yachting Industry.

Chris had an incredible sailing career that included multiple Big Boat Series wins in addition to great achievements on "Scarlett O'Hara" at SORC, Clipper Cup, and Admirals Cup. Chris won the 1/2 Ton Championship on the Wylie design "Animal Farm", multiple championships on Carl Schumacher's "Wall Street Duck" and "Swiftsure II", the 1986 British-American Challenge, and several Transpac wins. Chris was instrumental in developing several fleets in Northern California including the Express 37, J/35, J/105, Santana 35, Sydney 38, etc.

A Celebration Of Life honoring Chris will be held at Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda, CA on Friday November 30 at 1 PM. Please join in the celebration, and if you have pictures and stories, please come prepared to share them. -- Jeff Brown, JK3 Nautical Enterprises

The Publisher

Nov 28, 2012, 1:17 PM

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The Publisher

Nov 30, 2012, 6:17 AM

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From Jaren Leet:
I met Chris Corlett in the early 70's and knew him well. In the early 80's, without his able help and energy, I would never have been able to purchase the 2-tonner that became Irrational, and without his guidance and introductions, the boat would never have turned out to be so special.

Then again in 1997, when I knew I would be returning to San Francisco Bay, he located and helped me purchase the J/105 Irrational Again, allowing me to participate in the fantastic growth and fun of that fleet. He taught me how to set up and sail the J/105, getting me up the learning curve and into the fun zone very quickly. In between we sailed and lunched together all over the place, the most memorable as part of the USA Team that defeated Britain in the British-American Challenge Cup in 1986.

Great guy. Great Sailor. An Honest Man. Chris will be missed!

From Richard Spindler, Latitude 38 publisher:
Decades ago Chris Corlett and Tom Blackaller - who, prior to Paul Cayard, was the most famous sailor to come out of San Francisco - were involved in perhaps the most famous mano a mano sailing duel in Northern California.

You have to understand that 35 years ago Mariner's Square in Alameda was in many respects the center of sailing in Northern California, and it's where young bucks such as the vociferous Corlett challenged only slightly older established bucks such as Blackaller - and often in front of half the sailing industry in Northern California.

It happened so long ago that we're a little fuzzy on the details, but either Blackaller or Corlett had bested John Beery in a match race in Lasers from Mariner's Square to the mouth of the Estuary and back. This was a big deal in itself, because not only was Beery no shrinking violet, he was also the landlord for Blackaller's North Sails and the yacht dealership Corlett worked for.

After Beery was bested, Corlett and Blackaller got into a public spat over who was the better sailor. Another race to the mouth of the Estuary and back was proposed, but this time in Santana 35s. It was a bad choice of boats for Blackaller, as Corlett sold the 35s and had raced them extensively, so he clobbered the then-king of San Francisco sailing in front of much of the sailing industry. There was more than a little gloating.

Corlett's most recent racing was in this summer's Pacific Cup with his son Jesse aboard David Britt's Beneteau First 10R Split Water. "He told me it was his most gratifying sailing experience," longtime friend Allison Lehman told us. "He was so proud of his son; he called him a 'natural'." --

The Publisher

Dec 3, 2012, 7:43 AM

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From Chip Pitcairn:
When Chris Corlett won the 1974 1/2 ton NAYRU Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, I was picked up as local crew by Chris and was very fortunate to sail on that great little boat with a great crew including Dee Smith.

We won every race and even won the long distance race (approx. 250 miles) after starting over two hours late. We broke the headstay turnbuckle on the way to the start and had to make a 30 minute drive across a ferry from Port Aransas to Aransas Pass to find a machine shop to weld it. My job on the drive back was to use a coat hanger to hold the turnbuckle out the van window so it would cool enough to install by the time we got back to the boat.

We sailed in some very heavy conditions and throughout the regatta Chris kept the mood on the boat very low key and calm. The boat was easy to sail compared with some IOR monsters and the mood on the boat was lighthearted and fun, but very focused. I learned a lot about racing a sailboat that week and that regatta remains a very fond memory.

The Publisher

Dec 4, 2012, 6:46 AM

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From Paul Bishop:
After Chris Corlett won the 1974 Half Ton NAs on Animal Farm, he sailed the lightweight, fractional Peterson daggerboarder Oooh No! in the 1977 Half Ton NAs. They were the fastest boat there, but lost all points in the distance race that they won (on a questionable protest), so they did not win the championship. They came back in 1978 to dominate the NAs with a score of 1-1-1-1-3.

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