MARINA DEL REY, Los Angeles - Two major boating groups have honored Bruce Kessler with their 2007 Yachtsman of the Year awards.
Pacific Coast Yachting Association's prestigious Charles A. Langlais Trophy will be presented to Kessler, a member of Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey. The Langlais trophy has an 81-year history and is awarded 'for exceptional, outstanding and meritorious service to the sport of yachting,' according to Pacific Coast Yachting Association Commodore Paul Artof.
The Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs also picked Kessler as their Yachtsman of the Year, after he was nominated by both Del Rey YC and California Yacht Club. The Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs consists of 14 yacht clubs and three member associations.
The association's Yachtsman of the Year awards ceremony is planned for Jan. 6, at the Installation of Officers brunch in Marina del Rey. Commodore Bill Webster said the association's Yachtsman of the Year award represents 'a major creative contribution' to the yachting community.
'Neither award is based on winning competitions,' Artof said. 'The nominating committees of both organizations are made up of representatives from clubs that had nominated their own candidates, as well. So, it's quite an honor,' he said.
Kessler's most recent contribution was as director of the FUBAR Odyssey powerboat rally of 53 yachts that cruised together from San Diego to La Paz in November.
'The success of the FUBAR belongs to Del Rey Yacht Club and the FUBAR Odyssey staff, who were willing to donate their time and effort to raise the support needed to give boaters the confidence to make this journey,' Kessler said.
'Interestingly, Bruce was nominated for this award well prior to the successful FUBAR event in November,' Artof said. '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 and his wife, Joan Freeman Kessler, own Spirit of Zopilote, a 64-foot powerboat built in 1997 as Northern Marine's first yacht. Between 1990 and 1993, the Kesslers circumnavigated in their previous boat, Zopilote, a 70-foot custom yacht built by Delta Marine.
Born in Seattle, Kessler often jokes that his 'boating career began there at age 6, with a rowboat tied to a dock with a long painter.' In the 1950s, he was an international race car driver, representing Ferrari in the Le Mans, the Nurnberg Ring and the Sebring.
In 1959, Kessler retired from race cars and entered the motion picture industry. He began working for MGM as a technical adviser on racing films, which eventually led to a career as a film director.
Kessler is well known for directing motion pictures and many episodes of prime-time television series - from 'Mission: Impossible' and 'The Monkees' to 'Touched by an Angel.' His first film in 1963, 'The Sound of Speed,' represented the U.S. at the Cannes Film Festival.