When Eric Gustafson, the co-owner of Flying Cloud Yacht sales, started working with a client a couple of years ago in the market for a power boat with creature comforts, he sensed his buyer was something more than a wannabe stink potter looking for a floating Barcalounger.
Gustafson was right.
Eric, who often sports a Mount Gay hat that has turned pink from hours on the water, sold the man a 42-foot trawler but learned his initial gut feeling was spot on. The boat purchaser had raced in America’s Cup qualifying events and was an elite level Star class sailor. The client; Lynn Williams III, nicknamed” Lindsay” earned a silver medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo when he teamed with sailmaker Richard Sterns.
Today 80-year-old Williams spends about half time at his primary residence in Florida, and half time aboard his boat in Alamitos Bay Marina’s basin 8. With a son in the film business living in nearby Sherman Oaks and a daughter studying at USC, having a Southern California base makes sense.
Williams himself comes from a line of sailing royalty. According to his father’s (Lynn William Jr.) Chicago Tribune obituary in 1985, Lynn Williams Sr. won the “Mac” in 1931, 1934, and 1935. Junior won in 1970, 1974, 1975 and 1976. The “Mac” is the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. The 333-mile annual yacht race starts in Lake Michigan and ends in Lake Huron off Mackinac Island, Michigan.
The family sold the winning Sparkman & Stephens 61-foot sloop Dora IV to Ted Turner, who won the Mackinac Royono Trophy in 1978 and the 1979 Fastnet yacht races with the aluminum hulled yacht under its new name, Tenacious. The Williams boats were named in honor of Lindsay’s mother, Dora Dupont (yes that Dupont family).
Lindsey raced in Star boats with the late Dick Sterns, who Williams refers to as “A good guy and a sailmaker.” They men grew up in Chicago and got together “by accident” when Sterns needed someone 200 pounds and strong to race with — together they raced and won North Americans and World Championships. All told they had a great six year run, culminating with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The Aug. 17, 1964, issue of Sports illustrated provided some insight to the backstory on the convoluted Olympic qualifying process of the past where the Sterns-Williams team didn’t realize they had qualified. The article referred to Sterns as “a quiet, systematic sailor.” thinking he did not qualify, he “gloomily was loading his boat on its trailer, feeling like a beaten man.”
Today Williams is hoping to be get more engaged with the teaching side of the sport. He is an Alamitos Bay YC member and observed last year’s CISA (California International Sailing Association) clinic. Williams noted the best sailors around were coaching and teaching strategy.
“In a regatta with 55-60 boats, only 5 or so need any strategy. The rest of the fleet needs to focus on boat speed,” is how Williams explained where he would want to direct his focus.
He also had some strong opinions on types of racing, “I believe match racing is a detriment to the sport unto itself. It is gamesmanship as opposed to seamanship. It is certainly not the sport of sailing.”
Lindsay does enjoy his part-time home. He has taken his boat to Catalina a few times, owned a Cal 20 locally and summarized our local waters with, “Alamitos Bay has ideal conditions: 12-15 knots of breeze every day, and consistent good winds. It is the ideal sailing venue.”
As for me, I’m glad we can welcome another Olympian to call Long Beach home.
The red tide, or as scientists at the National Ocean Service prefer to call it, “algae bloom,” has appeared. Those scientists claim red tides are caused by dinoflagellates, and traditionally we experience in Long Beach when the weather is warm and the seas are calm. The organisms react with bioluminescence when the water is stirred.
I’ve seen boaters post videos of dolphins glowing as they swim in the bright electric blue waters in the evenings. My favorite memories of the red tide go back to the days when the pre-holding tank “heads” on most boats would cycle with salt water and the most stunning light shows could be experienced with a zealous flush.
One of my favorite questions posted on a local Facebook page was put up by a sleep-deprived local who asked, "Can’t the city cite those ships anchored in our harbor for violating a noise ordinance?
Of course, with the dense marine layer along the coast, the fog hovers and the foghorns are a combination of the many tanker ships at anchor waiting for oil prices to increase and entrance lights."
The Long Beach Light spec sheet claims, “It had dual-tone fog signals and a radio beacon. It was called the ‘Robot Light’ because the rectangular base on six columnar legs resembles a 1950s version of a robot.”
Her distinctive two-tone horn is almost hypnotic and her street name amongst sailors is said to be “Moaning Mable.”