We have on hand a very good 1985 interview of Paul Kettenburg by Bob Wright, of San Diego Historical Society's oral history program.
Now this 1991 interview, one of a series on the San Diego Yacht Club, concentrates rather on the relationship of the Kettenburgs to the yacht club, including both building boats and racing them.
George Kettenburg, Jr., Paul's older brother, appeared to be an absolute genius at designing boats, with no training at all. At 16, when handed some plans and asked to build a boat, he said it would be better if it could be two feet longer. He altered the design and was proved to be right. This started an extraordinary boat building business.
After George died in 1952, Paul, protesting he was no genius, and always working as if George were looking over his shoulder, continued to turn out equally successful craft.
Paul lives in the La Playa house his father built in 1912 on Kellogg Street between San Fernando and San Gorgonio. He met me at the door and took me downstairs to his roomy office, with one corner blocked off for a working space and one wall covered with plaques--racing trophies and small-scale models of their different boat designs. After our interview he showed me his latest pride--a meticulously crafted Ford Speedster, one of a series of antique cars he has restored. Mr. Kettenburg is an unusually bright man, an excellent businessman, designer, manager and craftsman. The San Diego Yacht Club owes a lot of their great success to his boats.
The interview with Paul Kettenburg was conducted in his neat, roomy office, lined with books and with models of boats and airplanes, all his meticulous work. In a room next door sits his present joy, an antique Ford, one of ten classic cars he has restored since he retired from professional boatbuilding. He seems too active to be thought of as "retired." Paul Kettenburg got his start with Kettenburg Marine as a schoolboy, running errands for his big brother George, a real genius in building boats. After helping George for years, he finally designed and built one himself, with George looking over his shoulder, and although he designed and built many others after George died, he was always thinking, "How would George do it?"
So George's spirit remained with Kettenburg Marine, capably handled by Paul and the excellent men chosen to carry on the business of designing, building, and re-working boats of all kinds. Great sailors themselves, their boats are classics and have been a notable influence on West Coast Yachting.
There's no question that Paul's story is as factual as it is interesting.
Ruth Held, Interviewer