It’s been more than five decades since Newport Beach City Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield started his Duffy Electric Boat company.
Duffield built his first boat when he was 16 years old. His company has sold tens of thousands of boats and become synonymous with Newport Beach, where Duffy rides on the harbor are the norm.
“I’ve had to endure decades of laughter,” he told a crowd — also laughing — on Thursday at the Balboa Bay Resort. “To be known as a builder of the world’s slowest boat is something that I really didn’t think I wanted on this planet. I wanted to be a famous sailboat designer and racer dude, and I sort of kind of am, but not really.”
Still, Duffield now hopes the Newport Harbor Foundation can also similarly be built from the ground up.
The foundation, launched in 2019 before being curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, held a kickoff champagne brunch Thursday.
It announced that it had raised more than $275,000 at the event, which also served as a celebration of 50 years of Duffy boats. That number was doubled to $550,000, as foundation chairman Dennis Durgan said there was an anonymous matching gift.
The Newport Harbor Foundation’s stated goal is to take back local control of Newport Harbor, which is now patrolled by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and start a Newport Harbor Public Safety Department.
Durgan, himself a former harbormaster, said the foundation wants to initially raise $2.5 million for the purchase of a fire boat and four police patrol boats.