Sunsets in Capo Beach will never be the same as Wayne Penn Schafer has slipped from this world. The dearest of friends to so many in his 91 years with us, he passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in front of Poche Reef on June 2, 2020.
Schafer bought his house in Capo Beach in 1953 and had the good fortune, as he liked to say, “of picking my neighbors.”
“In the beginning it was just a group of guys down here, no organization or anything,” Wayne explained last year. “Walter and Flippy Hoffman moved in. And I rented a room to Phil Edwards and Grubby Clark for awhile. We had a lot of fun.”
Born January 31, 1929, in Long Beach, CA, Schafer’s father, a Osage Native American, passed away during the Great Depression and he was raised was raised in Toluca Lake by his mother and her second husband, Hollywood photographer A.L. (Whitey) Schafer. It was there that he met his lifelong best friend, Peter H. Dailey. Schafer went on to USC. Shortly thereafter he paid $5,500 for his home in Capo Beach, where he would spend the rest of his days.
“One day I was down hanging out at Trestles with a few guys,” Schafer said. “Phil [Edwards] was down there. I was introduced to this rather tall guy, you couldn’t forget his name, Grubby. We got acquainted on the beach. He seemed like a pretty fun guy. He was down at Hobie’s a lot glassing boards. He had this yellow truck with a camper on the back that he built. He’d sleep in it. He was like a homeless person. As I got to know him, one day he said, ‘Can I park down at your lot and sleep?’”
“Finally, I said, ‘If you want, I’ll rent you a room?’ He jumped at it, so he moved in here. Later on, in came Phil. He was living in Oceanside and doing a lot of surfing up here and hanging out and he worked at Hobie’s. So now there were three of us here and it was a great time period of us surfing and diving and fishing and just being surfers.”
Over time, Schafer and Hobie Alter became fast friends and it was on the beach at Poche that the original Hobie Cat was developed. Schafer gave tutorials to introduce the Hobie Cat to throngs of sailors around the world, and his Wednesdays at Wayne’s après-sail barbecues at Capistrano Beach attracted sailors from all continents. His legendary sailing skills (he always found the wind), integrity, and warm manner helped propel the Hobie Cat to worldwide fame, while forging personal, lasting friendships spanning multiple generations.
Schafer was also one of a quartet of Southern Californians who established a base in Moorea, Tahiti, that evolved into the world-famous Bali Hai resort. His other real estate interests included property at Zacatitos on the East Cape of Baja, Mexico, his Osage father’s original mountain cabin in Idyllwild, CA, and property in the Osage Nation Oklahoma, where he maintained his headrights.
Schafer was loved by many around the world and at home. He was a treasure of a man who’s warmth and hospitality will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, Schafer’s family and friends ask that donations be made to the Wayne Penn Schafer Memorial Fund at the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center.