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Seasoned beginners

Rare is the Penguin sailor in southern California competition who hasn't seen Bert and Faith Israel's varnished and pumiced Penguin Chilly dead ahead and moving away. For more than 50 years the Israels, both now in their 70s, have been winning races on San Diego Bay. Victory on the water comes naturally to Bert, who was born in a lighthouse overlooking the bay and learned to sail in a 35-foot sandbagger—"a raft with a gunnysack sail," he recalls. Faith was converted soon after meeting Bert. "He began courting me on a sailboat in 1908," she says, "a year before we were married. We've been sailing together ever since."

The couple bought their first Penguin in 1942 (the Chilly is their eighth). Proof of their success is a gigantic glass case in their living room that bulges with trophies. "Bert is a pretty good skipper," Faith admits, "but he thinks I'm a terrible crew."

"I can't tell whether she's good or bad, because she's the only crew I've had for 53 years," says Bert. But he has no intention of making a change at this late date. "We'll be racing together as long as we can hoist a sail," he says. "Why, we're just beginning to get good at it."