Karma Yacht Sales Founder Lou Sandoval is featured in the “Sailors Among Us” section of the July/Aug 17 issue of SAILING MAGAZINE. The feature, written by Heather Steinberger highlights Mr. Sandoval’s circuitous journey into the Marine Industry and his quest to extend the pathway for a new generation of sailors. Steinberger taps into the tenacity and perseverance that is characteristic of competitors such as Mr. Sandoval and how it defines their outlook on life.
Originally published in SAILING Magazine, copyright 2017. www.sailingmagazine.net
A circuitous route to the sailing life
This Chicago man didn’t grow up sailing, but it became a passion he’s passing on to his family
Like a sailboat, life never moves in a straight line from the starting line to the finish. It also has a tendency to blast you with roaring winds, strange currents and a startling array of unexpected circumstances, which means you’ll learn a heck of a lot along the way— and very likely emerge stronger and wiser than before.
No one understands that better than Lou Sandoval, whose love of sailing has taken his life in directions he never expected and forms the backbone of everything from his profession to his family life.
Sandoval didn’t grow up in a sailing family. Far from it. His paternal grandparents were migrant workers; they regularly trav- eled from their farm in Mexico to farms in the United States that needed help. As a result, Sandoval’s father and his seven brothers and sisters were born in communities across North America.
“My father was born near Minnetonka, Minnesota,” he says. “After his parents died, he came to live in Chicago with his oldest brother, and he got a job in the steel mills at age 18.”
The elder Sandoval worked in the mills for more than 40 years, providing a solid working-class upbringing for his own four children, who he and his wife enrolled in private Catholic schools.
“They made sure we got a good education,” Sandoval says. “It was a good foundation for all of us, and we grew up with strong family values.”
The first in many twists of fate came in the form of the Cub Scouts. A friend invited an 8-year-old Sandoval to attend a meeting, and he was intrigued by what he discovered. “They did so many fun outdoor things, like camping and hiking,” he recalls. “When I was 10, I went to a scouts’ summer camp in Michigan, near Muskegon. That’s where I started sailing. I earned a merit badge sailing Sunfish.”
Sandoval’s childhood experiences at the Owasippe Scout Reservation’s Big Blue Lake shed entirely new light on his home. Although it sat in the shadow of the steel mills on Chicago’s South Side, it was just two blocks from Lake Michigan.
“So many Chicago kids live near the lake, yet they never go there,” he muses. “That’s a challenge for our city, because the water can give young people so many opportunities.”
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