To be named Yachtsman of the Year by a prominent organization is a humbling prospect, to be sure, and the idea of being given the honor by two prominent associations is almost unheard of, but Del Rey Yacht Club’s Bruce Kessler is enjoying this unique circumstance.
“I never think of those types of things,” said Kessler of winning both awards that celebrate a person’s outstanding and meritorious service to the sport of yachting. “I’m very pleased and very flattered. I’m glad about this because it was about powerboating and I’m also really excited for my yacht club.”
Both the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Club and the Pacific Coast Yachting Association picked Kessler for the prestigious award for contributing generously to the yachting commun- ity. The former television director recently organized a wildly successful powerboat rally from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas; Mexico called the FUBAR (Fleet Underway BAja Rally) Odyssey and has been very available for speaking engagements and other educationally related affairs.
“Interestingly, Bruce was nominated for this award well prior to the successful FUBAR event in November,” said Pacific Coast Yachting Association commodore Paul Artof. “Besides taking into account his circumnavigation and his contributions to the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004, they also noted his willingness to share his valuable expertise, in public speaking and giving educational seminars, with so many boaters who have similar fantasies.”
Kessler is a former television director who directed such TV hits as Mission Impossible and Touched by an Angel. And that was the question when he began the FUBAR process back in July 2006 — would it be Mission Impossible or Touched by an Angel? Fortunately for the 53 boats involved, the rally was the latter. There were no catastrophes and, most important, it achieved its goal of getting powerboaters in need of long-distance cruising experience a chance to log some miles with the benefit of a back-up contingent.
“I could not be more pleased,” said Kessler of the FUBAR’s success. “It was a very carefully planned and well executed event, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Everything went the way I hoped it would.”
Kessler is an accomplished long-distance cruiser with a circumnavigation and countless Mexican journeys under his belt. He recognized the longing and apprehension many local powerboaters had for long distance traveling and organized the FUBAR to satisfy that thirst. Kessler himself has reaped great rewards from rallies he has partaken in and was looking to give back.
“I’m happy to hear,” he said in a humble tone, “what I said would happen is happening. People bonded with each other and made good friends. And the other thing is the confidence that people have in themselves now — it’s kind of opened up their horizons for them.”
While the FUBAR rally was a complete success, Kessler can’t confirm right now if there will be another convoy to Mexico next year. He said that in another month more details will come to light that will solidify the future. But judging by the popularity and attention the event received, it seems likely someone will grab the torch and continue.
In addition to giving fledgling cruisers a protected opportunity, FUBAR also donates revenue from entries to junior programs at sponsoring yacht clubs.
As for the future, Kessler can’t speak presently about the FUBAR, but he can say that he will continue to oblige when it comes to donating his time and energy to further the sport of boating.
He has a number of speaking engagements lined up and plans on continuing his passion for long distance traveling aboard his trusty Spirit of Zopilote, a 64-foot powerboat built in 1997.
“I’m so very pleased that powerboats are being recognized,” said Kessler, deflecting the focus to the sport itself. “I think that this is what [FUBAR] is doing — putting powerboating in a perspective that it hasn’t been in before.”