Lenny Shabes

American Sailing Founder and Chairman Lenny Shabes dies at 74

By: American Sailing

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Leonard “Lenny” Stanley Shabes on January 26th, 2023 in Marina del Rey, California.

Lenny was born in New York on November 3, 1948 to his father Leo and his mother Gertrude, and was their only son. He moved to Los Angeles at a young age where he attended Fairfax High School and graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in telecommunications.

In 1975, Lenny met his wife Cindy and quickly fell in love. They were married four years later in Beverly Hills and built a life together including Lisa, Lenny’s daughter from a previous marriage. 

Lenny and his daughter Lisa

He began his entrepreneurial journey in 1977 with the launch of The Video Center, specializing in newly developed home theater technology, which quickly grew to 7 locations. After growing the chain to a local household name in the greater Los Angeles area, Lenny sold the company and started a sailing charter company with his wife Cindy called Bareboat Charters in Marina Del Rey. 

In 1983, Lenny started a series of sailing schools called the American Sailing Association (ASA), initially licensing curriculum from the Canadian Yachting Association. The ASA has grown steadily and now has over 400 schools worldwide. Lenny served in many capacities in the organization including founder, Executive Director, and Chairman of the Board. It is now the largest sailing education organization in the world and has taught over half a million sailors how to sail. Lenny always took pride in creating a safer environment on the water through sailing education.

In 1988, Lenny met his friend and mentor Roger Werner at the America’s Cup in San Diego . As an executive at ABC, Roger helped Lenny get his footing in the world of television production. Lenny’s experience in video technology, coupled with his degree in telecommunications, led him to start WATV Productions in 1996 in Los Angeles. At WATV, he was the executive producer of thousands of episodes of motorsport television including Overhaulin for Discovery, American Thunder, Classics, Behind The Headlights, and dozens more series for the Speedvision network. Lenny was also involved in creating TorqueTV which was sold to MotorTrend in 2015. Lenny worked in television for 23 years and received numerous awards and accolades. 

Lenny enjoyed motorcycles, classic cars, Italian food, fine wine, photography, and traveling the world with his wife Cindy. Together they enjoyed daysails on Jubilation, their 33-foot sailboat, and took every opportunity to get on the water with friends.

Lenny is survived by his wife Cindy of 43 years, daughter Lisa, son-in-law Greg, and grandchildren Emily and Brandon.

Lenny was a wonderful and loving husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend.  He will be truly missed by all that were blessed to have known and loved him.

Celebration of Lenny to follow.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
B Rucker
B Rucker

Jesus first choice of His disciples were sailors. Lenny is in good hands. God bless Lenny and all the contributions he has made for all of the ASA students who have benefited from their courses.

Kelli ann Barclay
Kelli ann Barclay

Very sorry for your huge loss 😢

Seth Rosner
Seth Rosner

I first met Lenny Shabes in 1982 or 83 through a mutual friend, so it was natural to be among the group that provided the initial financing for the American Sailing Association. My recollection is that our initial investments were loans evidenced by bonds that A.S.A. issued. After several years, in order to avoid the financial burden of paying interest on the bonds it was better for A S A to convert the bonds into common shares so the initial investors became shareholders, or owners, of A.S.A. Turned out to be better for both A.S.A. and the shareholders, of which… Read more »

Gregory Goehner
Gregory Goehner

Condolences to Lenny and his family.
Thank you for all of your contributions to our sailing community.
Requiescat In Pace

Ron Sasiela
Ron Sasiela

As an Officer of TASCA, a NYC sailing Club, your ASA organization canvassed the US for suitable organizations and schools to recruit into your newly formed 1983 company. I was prevailed to have been asked that following year, 1984, to consider bringing TASCA into the ASA fold and did. My original 201 & 203 Certification parchment still holds a treasured place on my bookshelf.
I have been an active sailing instructor since – Thank you Lenny.