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.