Inez and Clifton Odom
|Ethyl Merlyn and crew|
Our Vice-President Clifton Odom, and his Ultimate 20 # 6, Ethyl Merlyn, were among the first members of the Class Association. Clifton raced in the 1996 U20 Nationals in Hurricane Gulch, and won the Ultimate 20 fleet championship in the 1998 San Diego NOOD. But his greatest sailing accomplishment, for which he was awarded the first "Hero of the Ultimate 20 Class Association" medal, was the organization of the U20 effort to enter this regatta, and pulling it off against what seemed at times to be insurmountable odds. To quote one of the entrants, Oregonian Bob Aman, "this shows what can happen when someone puts that extra effort into it." Clifton initially counted on a turn out of five U20s, which included an arrangement for Aman to charter Bart deJong's Pinocchio. Near the deadline for entries, Pinocchio was sold and moved out of the area, and Skip Cook found that he had to be out of town. Clifton simultaneously brokered the deal for Aman to use Cook's boat and successfully petitioned The San Diego Yacht Club and Sailing World to allow U20s to retain a fleet start with only four boats! And then, the following year he more than doubled the number of U20 entries, making our class one of the largest in the 1999 San Diego NOOD.
The following biographical sketch was written by Clifton's wife, Inez.
"In my office is a humble calligraphied sign that Cliftom made years ago that says:
|GOD||whose love is beyond my comprehension|
|FAMILY||who showed me love first hand|
|FRIENDS||who are my chosen loved ones|
|SPORTS||through which all can revel in the love of life|
"While I can understand the role that God, family and friends play in our lives, I never thought of sports as an integral part of the fabric of life. Through knowing my husband, I have come to a better appreciation of this idea. He loves sports of all kinds and enjoys being a spectator almost as much as being a participant. He is the captain of a volleyball team; he spent years racing bikes competitively; he is an avid black diamond skier. As a child growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, he saw people sailing boats on a lake in town and remembers thinking, ' want to do that!'
"After Clifton graduated from high school and went to college in Rhode Island for a year, he pursued sailing and learned the ropes [hee, hee ...pun intended]. As someone who loved sailing, he was probably destined to choose a profession that could fully appreciate the design of a boat, the forces of the wind on a sail, and the factors involved in maneuvering a boat across the water. He received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Universityand works at General Dynamics in San Diego. His ten year anniversary with the company was commemorated by the opportunity to select something for himself from a catalog of gifts. Clocks, globes, rings, pins ... Clifton chose a sports bag.
"Clifton is a member of Bayview Baptist Church where he volunteers faithfully as part of the security detail that greets people in the parking lot on Sundays and makes sure that everything is in order outside of the church. When he was a in college looking for a place to live one summer, he experienced the ugly face of racism firsthand when he discovered that no one would rent to him in a particular town because he was African American. He has volunteered with an organization whose aim it is to end housing discrimination, for many years, in an effort to help ensure that no one else need ever experience that type of pain and frustration.
"As the middle child in a family of three children, Clifton is considered "the quiet one". But he is rarely quiet when he has something to say. Extremely well read and thoughtful, he enjoys discussing Boutros Boutros-Ghali as well as Johnny Quest. An avid Star Trek fan, he and Inez enjoy watching classic Star Trek to Deep Space Nine and Voyager."