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Still Sailing at 100 Years Old

What did aunt Cornelia want for her 100th birthday? To go sailing with a boatload of close friends, of course. She’s seen here at the helm of the Trilogy VI cat with her son, sailmaker Barry Spanier of West Maui Sails and Canvas. 

© 2015 Paul Clauson

Some people obsess about how long they can extend their lives. But from our frame of reference a more important question might be: How old can I be and still enjoy sailing?

As Paul Clausen explains, his aunt, Cornelia "Connie" Spanier, celebrated her 100th birthday July 25 by taking a daysail aboard the Trilogy VI charter cat off Lahaina, Maui. A former San Franciscan who now lives in Maui, she "took the helm and enjoyed a wonderful sail with 60 of her close friends," says Paul. "We should all wish to live a life like hers."

In honor of his spirited mother, Connie’s son Barry, a sailmaker, author and former cruiser, named his Westsail 42 after her. First launched in 1974, the S/V Cornelia has now been thoroughly refurbished and can often be seen sailing Hawaiian waters — sometimes with Connie along for a ride.

During the 1970s, Barry and his wife Claudette spent three years building the ferrocement sailboat Seminole, while living in a shipping container in a San Francisco boatyard. Once it was finished, they cruised Mexico and Hawaii together, and Barry eventually sailed on to many South Pacific destinations. During those years Connie apparently enjoyed his adventures vicariously because she saved all his letters, which he later published in book form titled Dear Mom: The Bare Chronicles (available on Amazon).

If you know inspirational sailors who are over 80, we’d love to hear about them.

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