Bill Uniack

Bill Uniack and friend Glenn Dobbs having fun. Glenn said, All my pictures of Bill have other people in them. Bill was hardly ever alone and liked being with friends.


Paul Carey (Naples) Alejandro Sheratt (Surfside) and Deke Campbell (Huntington Harbor) had been training hard for the 2020 Catalina Classic.

According to the race’s website, “August 30th would have been the 41st Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race … an epic and traditional paddleboard race of world class paddlers that race 32 miles of open water from the Isthmus on Catalina Island to the Manhattan Beach Pier. Unfortunately, 2020 was the first time in 38 years, due to circumstances beyond our control we were forced to officially cancel the race. “

These young men decided to have a 3-man personal challenge and make the crossing on their own.

Deke's stepfather, Jody Campbell, motored the boys over to Two Harbors to camp overnight at Parson’s Landing. They broke camp at 5 the next morning.

Jody said, “It was a remarkable beautiful day, the sunrise was spectacular. There was a freighter passing at a distance and the guys paused a moment to truly appreciate the beauty of their surroundings.”

Shortly afterward, a small whale breached within 20 feet of the trio, and another whale surfaced between the paddlers and the Campbell’s boat.

5 hours and 47 minutes later, they reached Cabrillo Beach.

Eight Bells

Last weekend, Sept. 5, William “Bill” Uniack passed away; he was born in Beverly Hills on June 17, 1934.

Bill Uniack celebrated his 85th birthday this summer and shared some of his stories growing up in a neighborhood surrounded by early Hollywood legends with fellow staff Commodore Mike Elias.

Uniack’s shenanigans include stories of John Raitt of musical theater fame's habit of singing show tunes — especially "Oklahoma" — as he water skied from Uniack’s boat. Or how Bill watched James Cagney work out with a boxing kangaroo or how he witnessed Jack Palance chop wood as part of his workout routine.

After COVID, many of these stories, and the details, are best shared in person — when we can all toast to a life well-lived.

Uniack joined Long Beach YC in 1969, served as Congressional Cup Chairman in 1989, and Commodore in 1998. He served as a Long Beach Race Week chairman. Under his leadership, 1998 was the first year Congressional Cup offered prize money, and he served as one of the governing members of the World Match Racing Association.

Through LBYC, he knew Bill Hanna of Hanna-Barbara fame — but Hanna was a power boater and Bill was a rag man. His relationship with head Beverly Hillbilly Buddy Ebsen was stronger, because Ebsen was a sailor and had a 36-foot catamaran, “Polynesian Concept.”

According to Elias’s notes, when Billy was young the family lived on Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. His father operated an illegal dog racing track using Gilmore Stadium’s car race track — not far from the world famous Farmers Market. After that venture was a bust, Bill’s father bought a printing company, Western Lithograph, and the name was later changed to Bank Printing.

Because of Uniack’s connections, he printed the Disney money orders that could only be purchased at the Bank of America on Disneyland’s main street, and he printed the Super Bowl program for many years. The company is still open today, after it was sold to Bill’s longtime company manager King Chan.

In 1962, Bill moved into the newly developed Huntington Harbor. He bought his first of many Cal 20s, and started racing it. From there he moved up to a Cal 27 tall rig with a bow sprit that was fast in light air, out of control in heavy air.

LBYC Commodore Charlie Legeman spoke for many when he said, “He was a great friend and always a positive influence.”

Aquatic Capital

Lucy Johnson reports the Aquatic Capital of America (ACOA) virtual Long Beach to Honolulu fundraiser participants have logged in more than 16 million yards, with a special shout out to Erin Vince for her 10-mile swim at Huntington Lake and Mike O’Toole’s Gondola Getaway gondoliers, who logged more than 700 miles during the month of August.

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