Volume 10, Issue 3 - May/June 2008

life beyond the auto glass business

Come Sail Away (with Glass Bot’s Rick Nelson)

A cruise is many people’s idea of relaxation. But for Rick Nelson, the founder of Nelson Marketing in Garden City, Calif., a cruise means being out on the open water—in his own boat. “The cold water of the San Francisco Bay keeps me energized,” he says. Nelson, a 20-plus-year sailing connoisseur, has chartered sailboats twice to explore the Caribbean Sea with his wife, Connie, and when he’s not traveling the open seas, he’s racing his own sailboat in the San Francisco Bay. 

When he’s not out sailing, Nelson usually can be found working on a new invention for the industry. His latest is the Glass Bot™, a windshield removal tool (see related story in the October 2007 issue of AGRR, page 56). He got his start in the industry in the early 1980s working for window manufacturers, and then moved into the retail sector with his own mom-and-pop glass shop. As the owner of a shop that handled both auto and residential glass, Nelson found his creative side. He developed a moulding product in 1991, and started his own company, Nelson Marketing (until recently, it was called Delta 9 Products), and soon after went to work for BTB Tools North America. Since that time, he also has worked with Equalizer Industries, C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. and Pilkington North America.

Nelson took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to tell AGRR magazine a little about his hobby.

How did you get into sailing?
Originally, I bought a windsurfer and learned how to sail that. I soon realized I’d like to be able to sit down and relax when I’m sailing, instead of standing out there on a board, so I got into sailboats after that.

What type of boat do you sail?
It’s an old, Olympic glass-bottom boat that they raced in the early 1970s. It’s called the “International Tempest” and it’s built for a two-man crew.

How often do you sail?
I do about six races a year right now—the majority of my time spent sailing is spent racing. Most of the races I do are specialty races—either destination races, or a big loop of the San Francisco Bay. Usually, they’re about four to eight hours long.

What’s the longest race in which you’ve ever competed?
We’ve got a race out here that starts in Stockton, Calif., and goes all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco). That’s about 35 hours of racing—we usually start on Friday and get in pretty late on Saturday night. We won that one in 1995.

Have you done any longer, vacation-type sailing trips?
Yes, my wife, Connie, and I both have chartered a 42-foot boat in the Caribbean twice—once in 2001 and once in 2003. 

What island or islands did you visit in the Caribbean?
The British Virgin Islands—it’s a great place. We did a lot of snorkeling, even some deep-sea snorkeling. On one of the trips, we snorkeled down and saw the “Rhone,” the boat featured in the 1977 movie, “The Deep.”

What’s your favorite sailing venue?
The San Francisco Bay—it’s great to see that view without being attached to the masses on the beach.

Would you encourage others to take up the sport?
More people need to get out sailing. It’s a great way to relax. 

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