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Industry mourns California sailracer

Sailboat racer, surfer and San Diego Yacht Club member Barry Ault died on Christmas Day after a very short, but devastating illness. He was 71.

Ault grew up in Los Angeles and Arcadia, and he graduated from Arcadia High School and Pasadena City College. He moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics.

At the university, he met Sally Benton. They discovered a mutual interest in sailing and married right after graduation. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy. Ault was a brilliant computer scientist and worked in civil service for the federal government until his first retirement, according to an obituary in Sailing Scuttlebutt.

He then worked for software company FGM Inc., which became Novetta Solutions, until his second retirement.

Ault was a waterman. He developed a love for surfing and sailing at a very early age and took up windsurfing in the early 1980s. He was happiest in or on the water and was a skilled and respected surfer. He won the U.S. Surfing Championship in Huntington Beach in the master’s category in 1970 and placed second in 1971. He placed first in the senior category in Hawaii in 1980.

More recently, he started competing again in local contests as a member of the Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association. Ault and his wife made trips to Fiji, Costa Rica and other exotic locations in search of good waves. He was ripping the big surf at Sunset Cliffs only five days before his death.

Ault sailed on boats big and small all over the world. He competed in a number of ocean races on a variety of boats during the past 40 years. His two Transpacs were among his favorite races. Ault was a senior judge for US Sailing and enjoyed hearing protests and writing appeals.

He loved racing his Etchells and model yacht at San Diego Yacht Club and windsurfing and surfing at Punta San Carlos in Baja California. He built a motor home from a school bus so the trips to Baja could be done in comfort.

He also spent a lot of his time working on boats, his and others. His latest project was refurbishing a sabot for his grandson Colin.

There will be a paddle-out in his honor at Luscomb Point at 2 p.m. on Jan. 17. A celebration of his life will be held at the San Diego Yacht Club on Jan. 18. The family will place his ashes in the sea he loved.

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