The Friends of OASIS (FOO) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the support of the Newport Beach OASIS Senior Center. The Oasis Sailing Club is an activity of Friends of OASIS. The club’s mission is to provide recreational sailing for older adults.
The club had its beginning in the spring of 1986 at a meeting of the Friends of OASIS when one of its members, Dr Neil Buell, offered his 25ft. sailboat American Mariner to the group for recreational sailing. John Byerlein, a local Newport Beach businessman and community leader and some of his buddies jumped on that opportunity and founded the Oasis Sailing Club.
In May of 1988 Stan Hauxhurst purchased a 27ft. Catalina sloop and made it available for club use. The boat now named “Oasis” was donated to FOO in 1992 and used a slip in the marina at Bayside and Pacific Coast Highway.
In March of 1999 Kurt Topik, another of the founders, donated a 30ft. Newport sloop to replace the older, smaller Oasis. She was christened “Oasis II” and was called “the most active sailboat in the world” because of her constant use.
By 2006 the club’s membership had grown to the point that it could support a second boat. John Byerlein, the club’s Commodore, invited Mel Richley, the original owner of the company that built the Newport sloops, to sail on the club’s 30ft. Newport “Oasis II”. Richley was so impressed that he offered to buy the club a Newport 27 or 30 if we could find one that fit our needs. A second boat was found and moved from San Diego to Newport Beach. Formerly “Cooler Runnings”, it became “Oasis III”, making Oasis Sailing Club a fleet operator with a two-boat fleet.
In 2008, the much-loved but very tired “Oasis II” was traded in on “Oasis IV”, a Hunter 32.6 sloop.
As the club’s membership continued to grow, the number of members able to sail was increased through the purchase of “St Mary II” a Catalina 34 Mk II, which became “Oasis V’. “Oasis III” was then sold.
In 2014, it became apparent that the club’s skippers preferred the larger Catalina boat while the Hunter often sat idle. Commodore John Whitney suggested we should replace the Hunter with another Catalina Mk II so that we had identical boats to simplify maintenance. In August of 2014, a nine-year-old Catalina 34 Mk II that was virtually unused was located and purchased. “Oasis VI” had replaced “Oasis IV” which was eventually sold.
And that’s how we now have our beautiful twin Catalina 34s.
So far, this history has been framed by the club’s boats. An organization such as OSC could not have happened without the participation and leadership of many volunteers over the thirty plus years of its existence. Many of the social and sailing projects enjoyed by club members today originated with past club Commodores and their staffs including: special weekend sails, ordering logo apparel to show pride of membership in the club, racing trophies such as the EVA series perpetual trophy for sailing from Newport Harbor entrance around the EVA oil platform and back again in the shortest time, social activities such as Opening Day Ceremonies, Summer Picnics, Christmas parties, Sunset Sails and Harbor Holiday Lights Cruises, etc.
To try to identify and list all the Vice Commodores, Treasurers, Secretaries, and Committee chairs would be lengthy and difficult. However, a list of leaders and past Commodores and their time of service follows:
John Feeley: 1986-1990
John Kraus: 1996-2002
John Byerlein: 2002-2006
Harold Sharp: 2006-2008
Jim Stone: 2008-2010
Paul Bjorkholm: 2010-2012
Linda Boulton: 2012-2014
John Whitney: 2014-2018
Charlie Polce: 2018-2022
Stan Espenship: 2022-present
Of further importance to the club’s success has been its ability to keep the sailing experience affordable. The Friends of OASIS, by matching the club’s contribution of $1500 monthly to a Capital Equipment Reserve Fund, has made it possible to have two Catalina 34 Mk II sailboats which are fully paid for. Also, the City of Newport Beach, by making slips available at a 50% discount, has made a significant contribution to the club’s vitality.