Dale Nordin June 5, 1954-February 22, 2018
Yachtsman Dale Nordin died peacefully in his sleep last Thursday, Feb. 22. He was 63. Exact cause of death is pending the coroner’s report.
He will be cremated, and his ashes will be spread at sea near Long Beach. Services will take place in April or May — giving family and friends a chance to gather stories, photographs and memories to share at his celebration of life.
Nordin brilliantly navigated Robert McNulty’s Santa Cruz 70 Chance to first overall in the 1991 Transpac — they took home the Barn Door Trophy for fastest elapsed time, in addition to the King Kalakaua Trophy for the best overall corrected time. That was the first year that the slower boats started two days ahead of the sleds, making for a compressed, exciting finish.
Chance managed to sail fast — and have fun. Dennis Durgan, Newport Beach Harbormaster who has raced at least six Transpacs with Nordin, said, “We not only managed to beat the entire fleet, but we found time to catch fish and indulge in great meals on board. Dale was the sous chef and played the nerd role of ‘Murray Budiski’ on board. I can still picture him on deck with a pocket protector taped to his bare chest as we sailed the Molokai channel.”
It was Nordin’s unique gift at reading the highs and lows of the weather allowing him to anticipate the best course to take that set him apart. His intelligence was reflected in his navigation skills and his quick humor. 2014-15 Transpac YC Commodore Dan Nolan recalled, “Dale took joy in introducing me to people as his grandfather.”
Nordin served as 2008-9 Commodore of the Transpacific Yacht Club and continued to give back to his sport. He was a whiz at wiring boats and spent many hours at Bill Lee’s famous chicken coop perfecting his art.
Career success came because of Nordin’s strong desire to help people. He was a top salesman and built strong relationships with his refinery customers.
Nordin grew up on 54th Place in Portland, Ore. He started sailing as a child, with a neighbor, Dr. Bieker and his family, first with small boats, dinghies, along the river in Portland. With the Bieker family, he cruised the South Pacific and would later race in is first Transpac with them.
He studied chemistry at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington and on school breaks carpooled home with fellow Portlandian Karen. Karen’s dad was a fisherman who bravely launched his boat into the surf, so she shared Dale’s passion for the sea. It was years later that they reconnected — sailing on her Santana 21’ out of Alamitos Bay Marina. After they married, Karen was dockside to greet her sailor after his offshore adventures.
Today the house is quiet, even the Nordin cats are silent, with one cat — Cricket — faithfully resting on Dale’s pillow mourning the loss. The walls are covered with half models of legendary boats that Nordin sailed on — Ragtime, Blondie, Merlin, Shadow and Chance.
As the loss is just starting to sink in with good friend Dennis Durgan, he said, “Dale Nordin was a brilliant man with a heart of gold and I’d go anywhere with that guy on a boat.”
In Nordin’s Honor
Triumph is headed to Puerto Vallarta to sail in the bi-annual race on Friday, March 2, and the team is competing in his honor. Here are some memories from teammate Steve Sellinger:
“Dale has been a friend for 15 years. I had known Dale since 2003, as we worked in the same industry. One day in 2005 I was a passenger in his car on the way to lunch and I was talking to my dad, who was preparing to do his first Transpac on our Cal 40, Bubala. I was telling my dad, Lloyd Sellinger, how he really needed some help preparing and we talked about what he would do. When I hung up, Dale said, in the way he always did, ‘what’s up?' I said, my dad was doing this race to Hawaii called the Transpac. Dale, said, I know a little about that race. I said, really, what do you know about that and he said, well I've done it 11 times and am the Rear Commodore of the Transpac Yacht Club. I hadn’t any idea that he even sailed. We became fast friends and he helped my dad tremendously, making sure the boat's communication and navigation systems were functional.
"In 2016, Dale and I started a search for a boat to start off-shore sailing in. Dale and I focused on the Santa Cruz 50 and 52. Dale helped me determine what boat to get and once purchased, Dale spent many hours helping me get the boat, Triumph, in racing shape. Spending time on Triumph was a great release for Dale and he taught me a tremendous amount about off-shore racing. We talked almost daily and he really enjoyed helping me build the program, by adding crew, introducing me to key guys in the industry and explaining weather and navigation to me. Dale knew everyone and they loved him.
"Some of our best times together were on the Catalina Island series races. Great memories include watching him patiently explain navigation to me and others and seeing the satisfaction he got from passing on these great skills learned from hundreds of thousands of off-shore miles. He enjoyed not just competing, but telling sailing stories at dinner time in Catalina, aboard Triumph. He was funny with a quick wit. He had an endless supply of boating stories. He was always positive and accommodating to everyone. He would drop what he was doing to help a friend. Dale was one of a kind."