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ON THE WATERFRONT

She Sails Into Sunset, Usually in the Lead

September 17, 1988|SHEARLEAN DUKE

Competing in races nearly every day during the height of the summer season should be enough to exhaust even the most compulsive sailor.

How about if you're also director of emergency services at a busy hospital, the chairman of medical committees, a member of yacht club boards and an officer of a national racing fleet. How do you find time--and energy--to hoist your sails day after day, race after race?

It helps if your name is Carolyn Nelson Hardy.

Mention that name in local yacht-racing circles and most people will shake their heads, muttering something such as: "She's amazing. She never stops." Or: "I don't know how she does it."

Hardy, director of emergency services at Western Medical Center, began racing sailboats more than 25 years ago, when she was a sophomore in medical school at Loma Linda University.

She has been at it ever since. Today, as she competes in the final race in the 19th annual Angelman Series, Hardy, 48, hopes to add another trophy to the dozens scattered throughout her Newport Beach waterfront home.

A robust, friendly, outgoing woman who always has time to lend a hand or dispense advice to up-and-coming sailors, Carolyn Nelson Hardy is a paradoxical dynamo. There is the side of her that is all business, direct and to the point. And there is the side that is unassuming, demure and decidedly domestic.

As she leads a whirlwind tour through her home, pointing out her many yacht-racing trophies, she is not being immodest when she says: "I only keep the national trophies now. I give a ton of them away to the crew because I couldn't do it without them."

It becomes clear that she would rather talk about her crew than herself. Keeping her on the subject of Carolyn Hardy is difficult. Most questions about herself elicit a one- or two-word response and a quick change of subject. "My crew is incredible," she says. "These kids make it possible for me to race."

The "kids" are Roland Fournier, 26; Jeff Brewer, 25; Taz Waller, 22; Jonathan Goll, 27, and Chris Hemens, 24, all of whom love to sail and to compete.

"They call me Auntie Mom," Hardy says with a laugh that lights up her face, crinkles her eyes and softens her entire demeanor.

That nickname, according to Fournier, who serves as helmsman, is well-chosen. "She doesn't have any kids of her own and she is like a mom to us. She gives us advice on girlfriends and everything."

Fournier, who has raced with Hardy for two years, describes her as a top sailor. "She almost always wins. She is really good. And she treats her crew people great."

She and her crew race her 33-foot Soverel, named Mischief, which is docked in front of the waterfront home that Hardy shares with her non-racing husband, Bill, also a physician.

She has raced the boat in two Soverel Nationals, one in Florida, where she captured fourth place, and one in Rhode Island, where she was second. "In Florida, it was blowing 40 miles an hour," Fournier says, "and Carolyn was out there."

Although Fournier serves as helmsman, Hardy calls the tactics, works the halyards and, ultimately, makes all the decisions. As she says: "I'm the boss."

The words are spoken with the infectious "Auntie Mom" laugh that belies a shrewd business sense and an intensely competitive spirit.

Jeff Brewer, a Mischief crewman for the past two years, calls Hardy a "serious sailor, who gives 110%. There are not a lot of hard-core female sailors, but Carolyn is (one)," Brewer says.

A few years ago, before she bought Mischief, she chartered a 34-foot sailboat and raced it nearly 1,000 miles to Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of Baja California. Remembering the race, she smiles and says:

"When my mother heard I was racing to Cabo, she called me and said: 'I want you to do two things. No. 1, come home safely. And No. 2, never do that again.' "

As Hardy recounts the story, she shakes her head and laughs again.

During the summer season that just ended, Mischief raced each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening and most weekends, taking a big bite out of Hardy's precious--and scarce--personal time.

"When the last summer race was over," she says, "my husband was happy as a clam. Now, he gets his wife back for nine months. And he'll have more home-cooked meals."

Want to watch the Newport Harbor Christmas boat parade aboard a 120-foot yacht whose passengers have included Mel Gibson, Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand?

You can if you make the right bid Thursday during the United Cerebral Palsy Assn.'s Second Annual Christmas Boat Parade Auction at Le Meridien Hotel, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach.

From 5 to 9 p.m., you will have the opportunity to bid on the use of boats ranging from 18-foot bay boats to the 120-foot Lovely Lady, a luxury vessel which has sailed with such Hollywood celebrities as Gibson, Taylor and Streisand aboard.

The boat was commissioned by the Wrigley family in the 1930s and is now used as a charter boat and as a film-shoot location for movies and television shows. The yacht, now owned by Steve Pinkus of Orange, is among 24 vessels which have been donated for charter for the Cerebral Palsy benefit.

Value of the charters ranges from about $500 to $15,000, according to Penny Smith of Rodheim Marketing Group, the firm that is helping stage the event. Boats up for bid can accommodate from eight to 250 persons. It is possible to pick up some real bargains during the auction, Smith says.

"Depending upon the bidding, a $15,000 charter could go for $2,000 or $3,000," she says. Charters aboard the smaller boats are expected to go for a few hundred dollars.

"There will be something for everyone's pocketbook," Smith says.

Persons with winning bids will then be able to use the boat before or during the Newport Harbor Christmas Parade of Lights Dec. 17 through the 23.

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