The decade of the 80's opened with enthusiastic leadership with Commodores Rex Pierson of Jackson, MI in 1980, Ed Holcomb of Gloversville, NY in 1981, Bob Gough of Bedford (Dallas), TX in 1982, Jerry Craft of Perrysburg, OH in 1983, and Steve Volkhardt of Grand Rapids, MI in 1984. In 1980 Nan Holcomb took sole responsibility for the RABBLE.

Rebel Industries, now Spindrift One Designs, an arm of Melling Tool, produced Rebels in Jackson, MI. In late 1981 production was moved to facilities in Sarasota, FL.

The hard work of the Commodores and the help of the manufacturer helped to boost membership in the Association to 242 members. Good programs, skits, speeches and mixers at the Nationals helped seasoned sailors mix with new faces.

Dave Flanigan, 1985, Lee Shaffer, 1986, Mark Quiniff, 1987, Randy Blough, 1988 and Clarence Metzger, 1989, completes the roster of the 1980's Commodores.

Clarence Metzger and his firm, Ernst & Ernst , helped the Association gain 501 (c) (3) status from the IRS in 1981. As a not-for-profit charitable organization the Association could receive tax-deductible contributions. Ed Holcomb claims the not-for-profit status was granted in large part due to our support of Junior Sailing Programs at scout camps and the scholarships established for young sailors to further their sailing expertise.
In 1982, the Association added Okinawa Island Fleet 25 with 8 boats. Bennie Miller, Jr. claimed there were almost 50 Rebels on the Island. The Association voted to support an Explorer troop on the Island.

Younger sailors, schooled at Rebel Nationals, were making their marks. Scott Young (1980 Rebel Champ) and Kelly Gough (1976 and 1979 Rebel Champ who later crewed on an America's Cup Yacht) launched separate campaigns in 1983 to represent the United States in the 1984 Olympics in the Flying Dutchman Class. Both men learned to sail in Rebels on White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX.

In 1983, the Association's membership was 266 and the Nationals consisted of 6 races. By 1985, the Race Committee had declared a 2 1/2 hour time limit and a 4 leg minimum race. Sounds like there might have been some real drifters (ghosters) in the recent past. 1985 was also the year that a Rebel was on a national television series. During a scene with Victoria Principal on the series Dallas, Rebel sailors were doing their best to show the excitement of the sport in the background.

The editorship of the REBEL RABBLE left New York for Des Plaines, IL in the fall of 1982 where Mark Quiniff put his creative talent to work, ably assisted by Steve Volkhardt of Grand Rapids, MI who handled the publishing chores. Bill and Tokiko Blaine, also of the Des Plaines Fleet, assumed responsibility for the RABBLE with the fall 1984 edition. At the request of the Association, publication changed from three to four editions annually. Bill wrote copy and solicited contributions; Toki did the layout, printing and mailing.

Hank Hodgson, a champion sailor, labeled the Rebel a fun boat to sail. By 1986 there were 250 members in the Rebel Association and Hank was one of them. Hank was quoted in a magazine article indicating that there "were no rigid weight requirements for the crew. If the husband weighs 200 lbs and the wife weighs 160, they are just as competitive as a much smaller couple. It is a boat for Mr. and Mrs. America and for parents and children, it is for "everyone."

1987 marked the year that Hank Hodgson from Manitou Beach, MI, won his fourth Nationals with his wife Karen as crew. The Nationals were held at Clarklake, MI. In 1988 another husband-wife team win the National Championship. Blake and Karen Travitz, Roanoke, VA took first place over 44 boats at Smith Mountain Lake, VA. That year also saw Commodore Mark Quiniff and Peggy, his wife and crew, work very hard to increase membership in the Association.

Exciting news surfaced about a former Rebel sailor, Peasie Herndon from Illinois. Peasie tried out for the Women's 470 Yachting event in the 1988 Olympics receiving much support from members of the Association.

On November 14, 1988, the Association had reason to celebrate. Following the demise of Spindrift, the Association was left without a boat builder. Nickels Boat Works of Fenton, Michigan became the proud new builder of the Rebel. Not only did the Association have a new boat builder but a supportive member and a great sailor. In 1989, the National Champion was Karl Karlsson with his son-in-law out of New Jersey in great weather at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

National Champions in the 1980's were:
  • 1980 Scott Young - Corinthian Yacht Club, Dallas, TX
  • 1981 Hank and Karen Hodgson - Manitou Beach, MI
  • 1982 Ken and Ellie Mowbray - Des Plaines Yacht Club, Des Plaines, IL
  • 1983 Ken and Ellie Mowbray - Des Plaines Yacht Club, Des Plaines, IL
  • 1984 Don Robinson, Clark Lake Yacht Club - Clarklake, MI
  • 1985 Hank and Karen Hodgson - Manitou Beach, MI
  • 1986 Hank and Karen Hodgson - Manitou Beach, MI
  • 1987 Hank and Karen Hodgson - Manitou Beach, MI
  • 1988 Blake and Karen Travitz - VISA Yacht Club, Smith Mountain Lake, VA
  • 1989 Karl Karlsson - Awosting Yacht Squadron, Hewitt, NJ