Comments from the day Carl passed away

Nov 29 2013

DC: “Carl Eichenlaub was truly a genius. He could sail a bath tub down the San Diego river with a sheet as a sail. He built championship boat after champion boat for the Snipe, Lightning and Star class. He could play in the orchestra, build a railroad, invent a cedar core spruce star mast, go to the Olympics and not only repair the damaged US boats but help the entire fleet. He could build, paint and launch an ocean racing boat capable of winning the SORC — “STINGER” -- in 30 days from start to finish! All this as well a being a great sailor, winning championships from Sabot to Snipes to Lightnings. He inspired some of our very best sailors -- Lowell North, Pete Bennett, Malin Burnham, and Earl Elms in San Diego. He will be remembered as being one of our greatest sailing talents, along with Lowell, Buddy and Bill Buchan.There will never be another Carl, he was simply the BEST!”

Peter Harken: Carl Eichenlaub, to me, was one of two greatest of the greatest in the sailing world. Why? Because when on land he gave and gave, back to sailors, like no other great sailor has. There was no second to Carl’s deeds to our sailing community.

I spent lots of time with that wonderful person, so “elegantly”(tongue in cheek) dressed, at the various past Olympic venues, marveling at the man’s skills and his constant help to all world's competitors, not just to the US team. Most of all, just being near him made me feel so damn good and put a smile on my face to my ears!

“Any slob can win in an Eichenlaub” - a legend among legends, man, I was proud to know him, the best!

Kevin L Burnham: I have the fondest memories of Carl and his magic ways during the Games. In Barcelona in 1992, our 470 was thrown out of measurement and told not to bring it back. Morgan and I were completely devastated. Carl came to us and said " I can fix it". He worked all night grinding ribs out of the 470 while it was suspended overhead. We came back the next morning and it was sitting on its dolly. I put my hand inside the side tanks and the ribs were gone. We brought it back to the measurer and he said " what is that boat doing back here"? It's fixed we said. The measurers were astonished and we won a Silver Medal in that boat!

Carl, you were the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike Rothwell: Sad to hear the news. He took a micrometer to Dave McFaull's brand new Gougeon Tornado and then started sanding away. I though Dave was going to have a coronary. Carl just said, "You want to be fast don't you?. I also witnessed the metal detector challenge with Carl, it was priceless.

Aloha Carl and A hui ho.

David W. Gamblin: I had the pleasure of going thru the metal detectors in Kingston for the 76 games with Carl several times. It took him 20 minutes every time since he had pop rivets and screws in every pocket of his overalls and then some that would be in his cuffs of his work overalls. The security people would cringe every time he showed up. What a wonderful person.

Peter Commette: In Kingston in 1976, not only did Carl seal up my Finn mast from the inside out using radiator stop leak, but after my mast became the first non brand new one to pass the immersion test, he did almost everyone else's. Kingston ran out of the stuff!

He was our boatwright in '91 in Cuba. Same thing. As soon as he'd finish our boats, he'd go to work on a waiting line of other sailors' boats. Soviet, Cuban, competitor. Never crossed his mind to matter.

In Montreal, they supplied us with these God-awful beastly Finns and would not allow us to even touch the hiking pads. The bottoms were terrible and, at the very least were in sore need of a sanding. Sanding expressly not allowed! Carl looked at me and said, "No matter. Rules don't say anything about a chisel. You can do anything with a sharp chisel." For hours, he kept sighting the bottom and working his chisel, muttering his "you can do anything with a sharp chisel" mantra. When he finished, the bottom looked gorgeous.

JJ: I remember how people in the Olympic village would ask him what sport he was in and he always tried to come up with a funny answer like "synchronized swimmer".

Charlie Ogletree: I was lucky enough to be on two Olympics Teams with Carl Eichenlaub - 1996 in Savannah, GA and 2000 in Sydney, AUS. All the legendary stories of Carl are true; I saw it in my short relationship with him.

We were in Sydney on a really hot day helping Carl set-up his work shop container. Carl was wearing his typical hat and suspenders. As the day progressed and the temperature was rising, Carl couldn’t take the heat any longer. He lit his acetylene torch, the same one he uses to light his cigars, and cut a large hole in the side of the container and said, “Air Conditioning”! At the end of the Olympics Carl welded the hole shut with a patch.

Carl truly was an amazing human being and one I will always remember and be proud to have spent some time with him. RIP Carl!

Michael Gebhardt: I competed in 4 Olympics where Carl kept us all afloat, all of the US Olympic Team boats, windsurfers, and cats...we owe him lots of gratitude for being the go to guy to fix everything and more importantly fix our heads. I loved this man and his uncompromising spirit of service and joy he truly exuded, being the guy who could and would fix anything and for any team.. He will be remembered with a great smile and some great stories. I spent a good majority of my shore time in the Olympic Sailing venues hanging out and swapping story with Carl. He was a classic! Carl my brother from another mother, see you smiling on the other side of the God's infinite ocean, may a warm wind and fair tide always be your companion.

Henry Filter: In 1999 and 2003, I was privileged to represent the US and Snipe class at the Pan American games, of which Carl was the Boatwright for the US team. To say he was talented with glass work would be an understatement. At the ’99 games, the Snipe from Argentina was flown in by commercial airline. In the unloading process, a fork lift truck punched two huge holes in the hull of their Snipe. My friend Luis Sube, the Argentinean Snipe sailor for the event, did not discover the damage until he was at the sailing venue with less than 2 days to go till the first start. Without even being asked, Carl jumped in and began to repair the damage. Within 24 hours, the repairs had been made and the hull looked as good as new! During the event, we had days of racing where it blew 30 knots plus. Not only did the repairs hold up without any problem, but Luis went on to take the Bronze medal! That was what Carl was all about. He loved boats, the sailors and the competition! Thanks Carl, you will be missed!!

Jonathan Harley: As Olympic Director from 1980 to 2004, I probably spent more time at Olympic, Pan Am and Goodwill Games with Carl Eichenlaub than anyone else. He was an amazing individual and there was no one who did more for US Olympic Sailing than Carl, never mind the goodwill he showed to the sailing world.

Carl and I are probably the only two individuals who never went on the water to view Olympic racing, so we spent our days together, with me listening to his numerous stories.

In his position as Boatwright, he needed his equipment shipped around the world with the boats and I'm not sure everything we shipped was allowed, but Carl disguised everything well enough so we never had a problem and he always had the necessary equipment to keep the US team, as well as all sailors ready to compete.

I will miss Carl as will all of sailing. My thoughts are with his wife, Jean and his children.

Mark Reynolds: There were so many amazing things that Carl did in his life, we were all lucky to be part of it. I’ve been reading and thinking about all the stories this weekend. The innovative things he did as the sailing team shipwright, that could fill one book. All the fast Snipes, Stars and Lightnings he built. All the stories I heard first hand from Carl like the building of Ganbare, Father John, Humpty Dumpty (or “Hump” for short) and the old Scandinavian guy that used to sun bath in the nude in his boat yard. All the Doug Peterson boats he build after the success of Ganbare. How DC finished mid fleet in the SOCR one year and the next won in Stinger, Carl’s point “you just need a fast boat”. His love of wood and aluminum and dislike of fiberglass. He not only built fast boats he built them fast. He used a staple gun on wood boats and a chopper gun on fiberglass. His shop was a mess, particularly the old one but I remember seeing a beautiful bright finished 5.5 meter roll out one time that I couldn’t believe could come from there. He told me one time the fire marshal visited his shop up in San Marcos and when Carl asked if there was anything he needed the fire marshal suggested a good pair of running shoes.

Edward Trevelyan: Didn't know he had taken a Skil saw to Buchan's Star at the '84 Olympics. I like the story he tells in another interview of how he took a plane to a Snipe and got it past measurement after the cocktail hour.

Dirk Kneulman: I witnessed that pair of skill saw slices on both sides at the transom on that Star in '84 realized the

simple genius of Carl Eichenlaub. I will miss him

Robert Billingham: Watching Bill Buchan and and Carl measure in Buchan's Star for the 84 games was religious experience. The skill saw came out, cuts were made, the wedges were tapped into the cuts until the hull hit the edges of the measurer's templates, bog it up - boom, done ! No stress, no fuss, just two incredible pros at work (boat won the gold). There is no doubt in my mind that Carl provided an invaluable calmness and confidence to Bill at a critical time.

Ari Barshi (Cabarete, DR) I was very impressed with Carl's workshop at team USA boatyard in Club Nautico Santo Domingo, during the 2003 PanAm games. At the time I was setting up a small repair shop in Cabarete, and after introducing myself to Carl asked to buy his complete trailer, including all tools, parts, accessories etc. I immediately realized I made a mistake by the expression on his face. It was as if I asked to buy his right arm. He kindly refused, telling me that the trailer had a temporary import permit to the DR and needs to leave the country. He later took the time to introduce me to some of his tools that he either built himself or were decades no longer in production. There was magic in his trailer. Non sailors felt sorry for the old man who seemed lost in a Marina standing next to a horse trailer.

Bryn Vaile: The 84 Olympic story was very special as was his contribution to our sport, Having had to grind 7mm off the deck height at a measurement point of our Folli Star to get is to measure at the the 88 Olympics-yes it is stressful. Just saw some pics of the one tonner Ganbare which has been refurbished, she looks wonderful.

Jack Mathias: Attached are some pictures I had of Carl walking in the Opening Ceremonies at Kingston. He was an outstanding guy and we had a lot of fun together at the Games. One of my great memories of him is when he showed up at the Buffalo Canoe Club in the 60’s driving an old school bus that looked like a wreck. He had done a beautiful job of redoing the inside into a comfortable motor home. He also was always one of the boats to beat in the Lightning NA’s. I’ll always have great memories of our talks!

Kay North: During the summers of the l940's our family would rent a little beach cottage very near the Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego, which consisted of a dock box at the end of a little pier, a hoist, and a few boats on trailers. Someone would always need a crew...there were Skimmers, Flatties, Penguins, a Thistle or two...and some of Carl Eichenlaub's distinctive One of a Kind designs. Carl liked to have me crew for him because I knew nothing, I would pull whichever little line he pointed to, and he got no advice nor backtalk from me! My favorite Carl story is that of building a boat in the garage of his family home in Normal Heights, sliding down the canyon wall in Mission Valley to the San Diego River at the bottom of Mission Valley, launching and sailing away! That's about where Mission Valley Center is today! At the end of the summer season, Carl's parents would pick me up and take us to the Trophy Dinner. Carl would be dressed in coat and tie, hair slicked back, looking quite proper for the occasion! He built a little (about half-a-Sabot in size) boat for me. I didn't quite know what to do about such a lavish gift. How I wish I had that today. Such a gentleman, so clever, brilliant, talented, kind, and eccentric! It was a privilege to have known him, and I cherish the stories and memories. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to sit together and remember Carl.

Mason Chrisman: I find it remarkable that, reading all the remarks in Scuttlebutt about Carl Eichenlaub, there has never been anyone like him in our sailing world. Just think about all the great sailors and boat builders who have been written about over the years. Carl is in a brand new category. You just can't fit him into a mold, and you just can't make up a story about a person like Carl. He was different and better than the rest of us. We will miss him.

Roy Benstead: My introduction to sailing was in the Lightning Class. I helped a friend build his boat from scratch and then crewed for him for a few years. That is where I came across Carl Eichenlaub, who was part of Mission Bay Yacht Club's fleet. In the early 1960's I was working at Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego but was later transferred to Dallas. The guys knew I sailed in my spare time. One of them came to me one day and asked "As you are from San Diego, do you know Carl Eichenlaub?" Sure, I said. Then he related a story about him sailing in the Snipe Nationals at Fort Worth Boat Club on Eagle Mountain Lake earlier that year. Carl had pulled in there with his boat, and then looked for a spot to pitch a tent. He picked the front lawn of the club as the best spot, and camped there for the week. No one had the nerve to let him know that their prized front lawn was not for pitching tents on or camping out on, especially when he was at the top of the fleet most of the time. Apparently, the members there were still talking about that for several years afterwards.

Cliff Thompson: Carl is the person who taught me to race in the ocean on Cadenza. Other than a bunch of sea stories (I have some), I thought I would share some antidotes that Carl would say from time to time:

On towing his Lightning from San Diego to Florida for a regatta: "I never stop for gas in Texas. I don't want to tell them I'm going so far to go so slow"

"If you don't want to work hard, open a boating store in Gila Bend" (Gila Bend is in the middle of the Arizona desert.)

"I don't know why the Mistro fired me, just because I can't hear."

"I'm the only German playing in the Jewish Orchestra"

"Why sail on a bad day, when there are so may good days"

I can't say enough about sailing with Carl. I have great memories of those days.

Roland Schulz:

The passing of Carl Eichenlaub reminds me of when I had the fortunate experience to sail with him on his CADENZA in the 1980 St Francis Yacht Club Big Boat Series (BBS), completely by chance. I was 25 at the time and at loose ends, so I flew out to SF to help my brother move back east. We learned to sail in the Junior Sailing Program at Larchmont Yacht Club during the early 70s in Blue jays, Lightnings and Fireballs and distance racing on the cruising boats of our parent’s friends. On the weekends there was crewing on Etchells, IOD, Shields, and Rhodes 19s with the adults in the YRA. On the flight out I was reading a Sail magazine that featured an article about the BBS. I marveled at the photos of Windward Passage, Circus Maximus, Merlin and other maxis short taking right up to the seawall in front of SFYC in the fabulous breeze on the Bay. As soon as I got settled in, my first stop was the St Francis Yacht Club, and there was the legendary Windward Passage from Lahaina YC tying up at the dock. Turns out that the BBS was the coming weekend! Determined to get a ride, I met every yacht and helped them tie up, asking the skipper if they needed any crew. CADENZA came in from having just returned from the Clipper Cup in Hawaii and fortunately for me some of her crew were getting off. I told Carl my story of Long Island Sound sailing and he invited me on board and put me on the bow. It was an amazing experience for me and a testament to the wonderful man Carl Eichenlaub was to give an eager kid a shot. I still have the Big Boat 80 regatta button he gave me as a treasured memento.

Bill Tripp: I was lucky to work with Carl for three years. I knew him by reputation for his Lightnings - “Any slob can sail an Eichenlaub”. I went to work at Doug Peterson’s design office straight out of school, and Eichenlaub's yard was just down the street on Shelter Island in San Diego. Doug’s was a busy place, and so was Carl’s. I would hand deliver the lines plan of 40 to 50 footers to Carl’s right hand and loftsman, George, who knew everything about boat building (Carl taught him). Any drawing delivered went immediately into production. He growled at me over the first set of lines, lofting them - he was a master. Later I got better, and a “good lines” from him was priceless. Watching Carl and George weld was quite a show. On a 40 footer, Carl would take the starboard side, and George the port, and have a weld-off for one beer. It took them about 10 hours to fully plate the boa t- Carl would win in 9, but George would smile as the sledge-hammer - ba-boooom! - worked out some of the bumps down Carl’s side of welding. Then one winter we had an order for 50’ cold molded boat, ‘Checkmate’, that was cedar with the last planks in Meranti. Carl built the boats in a lean to, two sides and a roof, San Diego weather being what it is. Carl normally turned the boats (he built the boats upside down) by welding on a handle at the stem and transom. With a yoke under them, he rotated them like a barbeque chicken - a beauty to watch. But the 50 being wood, and big, was tricky. But Carl said no problem. He came in under the port sheer (boat was upside down) with a fork lift, and lifted, with the boat pivoting off the starboard sheer. When he had the boat at about 80 degrees, and the team was thinking ‘stop!’, of course or there is no story, the boat went over. Only there was a fence, and utility pole, and the Red Sails Restaurant. Vazzzittt! The Red Sails building only went slightly out of square, but Shelter Island went lights out for the morning. Carl smiled and scratched his head- “Oh sh#t”. The best roll-over party ever. The whole island came. Checkmate turned into a beautiful boat - race boat, light and strong, brightly finished, simple but beautiful below, an echo of his ‘Inner Sanctum”.

Bruce Gresham: 1st question What was the first big boat on I ever saw that had Big Loud Graphics on the Topsides? Cadenza. Late 70's maybe?

2nd question Who was Zeke the electrical freak, and what about all the boats in the commercial basin (now America's Cup Harbor) have telephone service... until Carl finally pulled the plug. The Zeke tapped into Carl's Phone line. There was a photo in the LOG of Carl holding a ball of electrical wire he had pulled out the bay. It had about 50 wires coming out of it. Each one going to a different boat. He never looked at his phone bills and missed it. The Grin on his face was priceless.

Bea North: a great man for sure

        • John Holmberg
            • Many years ago I realized that the sportsmanship I witnessed as Carl helped all competitors repair their boats... was something unique and I had adopted it unconsciously.. Thank you Carl... I am a better person for having had you as a peer... service to another.. the highest profession.. RIP
        • Kevin Lee
            • Sad to hear about Carls' passing . I worked for several years selling boats in front of Carls' boatyard on Shelter Island in San Diego. He never hesitated to share his knowledge and experience with me. Carl was one of the most friendly and generous people I have ever known. I can picture him in his overalls in the yard doing what he loved just "messing around with boats" .
        • Keith Burhans · Past Commodore at Rochester Yacht Club
            • I had the pleasure of getting to know Carl in Sydney as our shipwright for the Paralympic games. He was a fascinating person. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to cross life paths with Carl.
        • Gregory Scott · Top Commenter · Sales Representative at ReMax Riverview Realty Ltd., Brokerage
            • Great article and story.. Thanks for writing this today.. Some pretty amazing achievements along the way. And no they don't make them from that mold anymore. ..
        • Scott Perry · President at AAMS
            • Very sad news about Carl Eichenlaub. In a sport full of larger than life personalities, Carl was unique and inimitable. I had the pleasure of knowing, crewing for, sailing against and owning one of his great Lightnings.
            • When I was in college, after finishing up a summer tour with the Navy, I hitchhiked to Buffalo for the Lightning North Americans, where Max O'Meara and I crewed for him. While we had some boat issues with the mast step that caused us to have to constantly tighten the rigging during the regatta, Carl was ever the entertaining host as an accomplished musician in the evenings to the group that gathered around his mobile home. He even put up with Max smoking cigars on the weather leg. Later my Dad bought 8745, one of his very fast Lightnings and we brought it to the east coast where we were very competitive and later still, I raced with my father against Carl and his Cadenza many times off San Diego. A true gentlemen, who always had time for you, a great yacht builder and a better person than most people know.
        • Tad La Fountain · University of Pennsylvania
            • I probably should have known something was up in the fall of 1964 when the Chevy Impala came out with clear design references to the Ferrari Daytona (365). Then the next summer was 'Satisfaction.' But that was soon followed by the Lightning NAs at my home club (Bay Head) and Carl Eichenlaub showed up with what have to have been a 36" mast rake. It's been a while and I can't remember exactly why he ended up in the President's Cup (which he won) rather than the championship (which he had won two years earlier) - but it was an indelible impression in a time full of neck-snapping, jaw-dropping change.
            • Some people think outside the box; others don't see a reason to even acknowledge that it exists. They serve to remind the rest of us that we adhere to conventional wisdom at our own peril. If Carl Eichenlaub made that much impression on one teenaged sailor nearly fifty years ago, I can only imagine how much impact he had in total. Good on him...and aren't we all lucky that sailors such as he have been among us.
        • Barbara B Herman · Los Angeles, California
            • I have such good memories if Carl, both sailing & music. I remember when he showed us his contra bassoon when he was on his way to play. Carl was an exceptional person who loved sailing & culture so much. We have lost an exceptional friend. So sad! I was honored to know him.
        • Stu Seymour · Dartmouth High School
            • great loss to the sailing community Had the pleasure of crewing with him on Cadenza for several seasons I was truly honored to crank on his winches Learned way more about sailing and racing than I thought possible Thanks Skipper
        • Richard Peck · UC Berkeley 1959 and UCSF Dentistry 1966
            • An Eichenlaub recollection:
            • In the 1997 Big Boat Series, we were in the Rheem Series group with my Davidson 44 InfraRed. The final results on Sunday was: Cadenza first, Blue Chip second and InfraRed third, we made the podium. At the awards ceremoney later on Sunday, there was a big noisey crowd in the Starting Line room at the St.Francis YC. I was in the back of the crowd, and didn't see the actual awards presented by Commodore Dewey Hines to the first and second place finishers. When it was time for the 3rd place finish, I was called up, and pushed my way through the crowd. Although I was familiar with the name, Carl Eichenlaub, and his yacht, Cadenza, I had never met Carl. After receiving the 3rd place trophy, walking back into the crowd, there was this smallish somewhat untidy older fellow at the front of the crowd. He said to me these words; "You did a great job, we could never shake you off, congratulations." At the time, I didn't realize it was indeed Carl Eichenlaub, but after some realization I always remembered and appreciated his kind words. I would have to give the credit for our good showing to an excellent crew, and our tactician, Peter Winter.
            • My condolences to all the friends and fans of Carl Eichenlaub.
        • Lawrence Rhodes · Extra Musician at Napa Symphony
            • Carl Eichenlaub was my friend. He taught me a lot about sailing. I made him bassoon reeds. I got the better end of the deal. In the 70's he gave me a job as a starving musician & a place to live on docked boats. I was an abrasives technician for a couple of years. Also did odd jobs and had access to his lathe where I made my first bassoon reed profiler. When sailing I was best used as ballast on the rail or gorilla grinding & did a couple of coastal races and big boat series races. Eventually got used to motoring upwind with diesel smell and cigar smoke. Carl's stories helped. He saved my life once when I was so sick I nearly slid overboard and he grabbed me by my belt. Don't know how he did it as he was half my size. I did develop some skill on the single handed Laser but wasn't much good until it really started to hoot and then I cleaned everyone's clock. Not too common in San Diego. Carl and a couple of friends were extremely good light air sailors & could ghost up wind coasting to many light air wins. He was a prolific amateur bassoonist playing sometimes every night of the week in local amateur orchestras. I once saw him trim the bottom of a mast with a hand planner and it fit perfectly the first time. It looked like it was machined. There are many aluminum boats out there that Carl welded from scratch and he had patents on special bending belted sanders and aluminium plate bending machines which would finish a boat to exact specifications of the designer and race committee. He did figure out how to play bassoon on his boats with out much trouble. He bought a plastic bassoon and never worried again about it getting dunked. He will be missed. Lawrence Rhodes
                  • Dorea Tate · Interpreter at San Diego County Office of Education
                      • Carl was a kind, generous, intelligent man who so enjoyed sharing his love of sailing with everyone he could. I'll never forget the trip to Santa Cruz island with him. He was truly a very special man and he will be missed so much.