LCDR. John Potter Larson

The seed for Navy Yacht Club Long Beach started way before 1967. LCDR. Larson, during a tour of duty in Hawaii became a member of both Hawaii Yacht Club and Waikiki Yacht Club and raced under burgees of both clubs. He’d been bitten by the sailing/racing bug. He first had a Bay Lady Sloop, Debby Ann 1 and then built his second boat Debby Ann 2, which burned and sunk at sea. He returned to California & was based at Terminal Island Long Beach. He was determined to share his sailing enthusiasm with any and everyone. He believed that this sport could be invaluable in making smarter, more disciplined & better seamen and women.


As Port Services Officer, Naval Station Long Beach, LCDR John P Larson, USN, originated and brought into being a sailing facility, a new form of recreation for the Navy in the Long Beach Area. In the fall of 1967 LCDR Larson called a group of sailing enthusiasts to a meeting to organize the club.

The by-laws were approved on 8 November of that year with the first slate of officers, as follows: 

Executive Committee 

Commodore Capt. Charles A. Gardner 

Vice Commodore  LCDR John P Larson 

Rear Commodore  Capt. J E. Langille 

Treasurer EN 1 Steve Kmeth

Secretary Miss Valerie Roop 


Additional Board Members 

Staff Commodore Radm R Weymouth

Fleet Surgeon LT Douglas W Peterson (MC)

Judge Advocate YNC Thomas T Rich 

Race Chairman LT A.E. Tebbetts

Member LTJG T. J. Tassin 

Member LCDR J. R. Dodd 


In 1967 John Larson assumed the position of Vice Commodore and was instrumental in the acquisition of a fleet of Coronado 15’s and 25’s. As of December 1, 1967 current membership was 40 members 

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach conducted its first race on December 15, 1967. Four Coronado 15’s were available for this race. More boats were becoming available, and the need for racing skippers and crews grew rapidly. 

In accordance with the requirements of the Constitution and By-Laws of Navy Yacht Club Long Beach on January 14, 1968 at the Annual January Meeting  John Larson was elected to be the Staff Commodore when incumbent Staff Commodore Radm  R.Weymouth was deployed. 

Executive Committee 

Commodore Capt. Charles A. Gardner 

Vice Commodore : Capt. J. E Wright 

Rear Commodore : Capt. J E. Langille 

Treasurer EN1 Steve Keith  

Secretary YNC Thomas Rich   


Additional Board Members 

Staff Commodore LCDR John P Larson

Fleet Surgeon LT Douglas W Peterson (MC)

Judge Advocate Capt. R. O. Kellan 

Race Chairman LCDR A. J. Pappas

Member LT. Walter F Mierse 

Member LCDR J. R. Dodd 


John assisted with the administration and social activities. Besides being an integral part of the club’s sailing/racing programs.

John retired from his military career, but Navy Yacht Club Long Beach would forever be his passion and would strive to have the club well recognized and respected in the yacht racing community.  He went on to be General Manager of Los Angeles Yacht Club. Managing LAYC gave John the tools and connections to make headway in the quest to make Navy Yacht Club Long Beach visible in the racing community.

In 1968 Navy Yacht Club Long Beach participated and sponsored several events. 

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach sponsored the following races:

  • March 1968 Coronado 15’ s Challenge
  • October 1968 King Harbor Coronado 25 Fleet and Navy Day Regatta and Terminal Island Race. 

The same year, Navy Yacht Club Long Beach participated in several races such as the Midwinter Tune-up, SCYA Midwinters, Newport to Ensenada, Midsummer Regatta- Oxnard, Labor Day Regatta -Alamitos, Little Whitney LAYC Marina Del Rey Race, Sea Festival -LBYC, Navy Day Regatta and Seal Beach to Point Fermin Race. 

In 1969 Larson also participated in and assisted in the following races :

Midwinter Tune-up, SCYA Midwinter Regatta, Los Angeles Harbor, Little Whitney LAYC Oil- Ship Rock and Marineland Race. NYCLB also participated in the Congressional Cup, L.A Harbor Trial A.B.Y.C and Congressional Cup LBYC and the Newport to Ensenada.

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach also organized four seasonal seven race series annually such as the Intramural Regattas in 1968 and 1969. 

John Larson maintained several flag positions throughout the years. In 1970 he assumed the position of Training Chairman. As such, he trained 20-25 skippers that year and two skippered to Ensenada. He also started taking movies of a good crew for use in the training program which resulted in one of the best training methods.  

John also started two training programs for upgrade from Coronado 15’ to Coronado 25’ allowing the students to experience an actual racing experience. Once qualified on the 25’s, service personnel were allowed to check out the boats for outings to Catalina.

John Larson was also the liaison between Navy Yacht Club Long Beach and the Yacht Club Association of Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbor. On Sept 17, 1970 Navy Yacht Club Long Beach was invited to join the Association. John Larson was appointed as the Navy Yacht Club Long Beach representative since he was the Staff Commodore to provide the continuity needed in that role. 

1970 was also another busy sailing calendar which included Catalina Harbor Race CBYC, Catalina Island Series and Isthmus Race- LBYC, Dana Point Race and Ocean Racing Championship -CYC

In October 24-25 1970, the NYCLB sponsored and hosted another Navy Day Regatta. 

In 1971 John Larson was elected as Staff Commodore He resigned as Training Chairman and was appointed as Judge Advocate in June 1971. That year he provided a comprehensive discussion on the advantage to incorporate the club as a non-profit organization. 

For the August 1971  Kollar-Wilks Independence Day Regatta, John provided a shotgun with ammunition to be used as the starting signal, for each yacht that is over early.

In 1984 John and Wife Betty aboard DALKAI were selected to be a stake boat for the 1984 Olympic games in Long Beach.

In 1985, 1986 and 1989 John Larson received awards for his participation in the Navy Regatta and Ensenada Races. 

In 1987, the 11 yacht clubs belonging to the Harbor Association had each team name their own candidate for Yachtsman of the Year.

John P. Larson a Navy Yacht Club Long Beach and holder of the membership card #1 was especially honored when he was named the 1987 Yachtsman of the Year at the Yacht Club Association of Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Dinner on Jan 20, 1988.

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach gave their appreciative and loyal support to Larson as their nominee. This was the first time the Harbor Association’s award was given and Larson was the first name inscribed on the new billboard.

Larson’s interest in yachting and the expansion and improvement of yacht racing in the local community was described in the letter written on behalf of the NYCLB nominating committee by Rear Commodore Bill M. Lewis. He also mentioned the way Larson organized Navy Yacht Club Long Beach support to the Metropolitan YC of Oakland during the Oakland to Santa Catalina race in July and the hours he devoted to the successful race finish details. He was responsible for the NYCLB sponsored Homeward Bound race from Catalina to Long Beach.  

Larson was very happy to accept the award and was pleased that Navy Yacht Club Long Beach  recognized his contributions to the Harbor Association community. He recognized that Navy Yacht Club Long Beach was unique and different from other yacht clubs because the majority of their members are all service or service connected

Keith Morgan Memorial Trophy

In 1989, John received the Keith Morgan Memorial Trophy for outstanding participation in sanctioned racing events. 

In 1991 something else big happened for John during the Oakland to Catalina race event.  While wife Betty and daughter Debby were helping with the event, a salty racer came to check-in.  The racer was Rick Tyhurst Jr., son of Staff Commodore 1998 Dick Tyhurst.

Debby & Rick fell in love and after the four of them, John, Deb, Rick and Dick sailed Dick’s Newport 33 to Hawaii in July of 1992. Rick & Deb were married on 12/12/92 in the small Navy Yacht Club Long Beach clubhouse on Terminal Island.  This took the extended family concept that Navy Yacht Club Long Beach was known for to a new level.  Most every guest was a member and influential in Navy Yacht Club Long Beach illustrious history.

In 1992 at the Annual General Membership Dinner,  special awards were presented to individuals who have played outstanding roles in working for the good of the Navy Yacht Club Long Beach in 1992. Lady Mariner award went to Betty Larson for her chairmanship of the Oakland to Catalina Race and her duties as treasurer

In 1993 Navy Yacht Club Long Beach elected John Larson as their new Commodore during the general membership dinner meeting held on Friday, Nov 13 at Allen Center, Long Beach Naval Station. 

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach new Commodore John Larson, incoming officers Richard Satchell Vice Commodore, Al Toll Rear Commodore and Fleet Captain Bill Nielsen were presented with the respective officer flag by 1992 Commodore Paul Lowry. 

John continued his involvement with the Navy Yacht Club Long Beach Salty Sailor program and he was recognized for his efforts. 

John Larson after vacating his position as Commodore, reported his accomplishments by mentioning that the Oakland to Catalina race was rescheduled to be conducted on odd number years to avoid conflict with other events.  

Navy Yacht Club Long Beach was proud to announce the first annual hosting of NOSA’s Argosy Race layover. With one hundred plus sailors involved, this event had found a home at the Navy Marina. Navy Yacht Club Long Beach was involved for the first time in the USC/UCLA NROTC Regatta by contributing a Race Committee for the Midshipmen from schools nationwide. 

Same year Navy Yacht Club Long Beach reinstituted the MWR assist work weekend now required as compensation for the Club’s free use of the Clubhouse for some 30 events per year.

John was also inducted in the Blue Gavel in 1993.

 In 1996 John received the Keith Morgan Memorial Trophy for his outstanding participation in Sanctioned Racing Events.

In 1997 LCDR John Larson RET. Moved along with his family to Oxnard, where he continued in his support of Navy Yacht Club Long Beach until his passing in 2005.  He is survived by his wife Betty and daughter Deborah who still maintain their support & membership #1 at Navy Yacht Club Long Beach.

In continued support and remembrance of a great husband, father and shipmate, in 2022 John’s sextant was donated to Navy Yacht Club Long Beach as a perpetual trophy for a “Rising Star” award. This award is to be bestowed on a new member that has exemplified extraordinary participation, support and dedication to the club’s endeavors.