Who Are Those Guys?
By Marcia Peck
Mr. Hollywood He strides into the room at the Speaker Series, tall, in a dark suit, blue eyes twinkling. In a very Cary Grantish way, he introduces Dawn Riley, the guest speaker.
Who is the guy with L.A. style? He is none other than Mr. Mark Leonard, relatively new Corinthian Yacht Club member, who is making a splash with his resurrection of the Corinthian Speaker Series, bringing famous yachting personalities to the club to tell their stories. If the last two evenings were any indication, the series, which runs through November, will be a smashing success.
Mark grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where he spent summers camping with his family. His dad bought a lateen rig canoe for the Michigan lakes, and because Mark could sail downwind in a canoe, he was recruited by the Davidson North Carolina University sailing team.
He competed in the collegiate sailing circuit in Jet 14s, Flyers, and 420s. One blustery afternoon, Mark was sailing a Jet 14 and had one of his most memorable sailing experiences. He rounded up in a 20 knot gust, and t-boned his coach, who just happened to be in his brand new Boston Whaler. His coach, who was also head of the Humanities Department, let out string of expletives, not known in that department.
Mark put himself through school by starting a landscaping company, named the Red Bandannas. It financed an MBA from the University of Virginia. After unsuccessful business attempts, he literally drove to Lake Tahoe, with the intention of skiing and maybe finding a boat to sail on. He ended up staying in Tahoe for four years, bought a 470, and taught sailing. Then he landed a high-tech job in Santa Clara and moved to San Francisco.
Mark relates, Then I really had a funny (embarrassing) experience. I joined Horizons Boat Charter School to be an instructor. He remembers, Thinking I was a hot-shot collegiate sailor, I went to get checked out. The instructor asked me what to do if I went aground. I didnt know; I was a dinghy sailor. I found out I didnt know how to back down, either. I flunked the test and decided Id better learn how to sail.
Now Mark shares the J-33, Alize, with Dave Koettel. Theyve taken 3rd in OYRA and are regularly out racing. And now he knows what to do if he goes aground.
The weekend of July 16-17 saw three teams from the Corinthian Yacht Club competing in the prestigious Larry Knight and Little Lipton Cups. Julle Le Vicki on Smogen III, Charlie Brochard on Baleineau, and John Nooteboom, skippering Tension II, represented the club. Ted Goldbeck and Dave Crow crewed for Nooteboom. Said Dave, On Saturday, it was blowing like stink with a really steep chop. John drove the snot out of the Cal-20, but it was like taking a knife to a gunfight. We couldnt stay with the Santana 20s, who also had kites, and were flat-out flying. Nevertheless, John was relentless, and with a 1st place on Sunday, we finished in 2nd place, a really good showing. Way to go, guys. Its great to see the club represented in these events!