Meet The Condor Express Crew

Hiroko Benko

Dave Condor Express CrewHiroko is the president of the Condor Express, known to some as "the Commodore." She launched the Condor Express in 2002 with her late husband, Captain Fred. Hiroko brings a wealth of knowledge in many fields - foreign service, international relations, administration and management. She has worked around the world: Tokyo, Sweden, Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara. Hiroko's focus is to continually improve the Condor Express experience and to seek innovation for new charter experiences.

Captain Dave

Dave Condor Express CrewCaptain Dave is an "Ocean State" native and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He has worked in the field of marine mammal research, rescue and rehabilitation for over twenty years. He works all over the world as marine mammal consultant, research and rescue team leader, including Japan and the Galapagos Islands. He is our crew member responsible for reporting and coordinating the rescue of entangled whales and dolphins. Dave is also an accomplished videographer and underwater cinematographer. His credits include National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and many Cousteau feature films. Dave brings his extensive marine mammal experience and love for the ocean aboard every trip, and he is a great Captain.

Captain Tasha - Cafe Condor Manager

Tasha Condor Express CrewTasha is the manager and chef of "Cafe Condor," our galley. She is also a Captain. She grew up in Long Beach, California. She moved here to attend the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with a degree in Geography. She has spent much of the past seven years SCUBA diving the Channel Islands by cooking on boats. She has only left Santa Barbara to travel and work at a surf camp in Southeast Asia and Central America. In her spare time she is involved in mammal rescue.

Captain Colton

Colton Condor Express Crew Captain Colton was born in Oxnard, CA and is a complete water child, whether he is working on it, surfing, or taking out his own boats. He started sailing at a young age and captained many boats through the years, both running charters and giving lessons. He took his captain classes and final test with our other 2nd captain, Tasha. This is how he met the rest of the crew of the Condor Express. Colton studied Communication and loves the tourism industry. He enjoys informing people about the wild life that surrounds him on a daily basis, as well as the top places to eat, drink, and where to go to explore the town.

Jill - Galley

Jill Condor Express CrewJill works in Condor Café, our galley, and also helps on deck. She was born and raised in Switzerland and speaks 5 languages. Jill also went to culinary school and used her talents preparing food on yachts around the world. She has been part of the galley and crew of many boats on the Santa Barbara Channel. Jill is an avid traveler.

Devin - Deckhand

Devin Condor Express CrewDevin works as a deckhand and also helps in the Condor Cafe. Originally from Sacramento, he moved to Santa Barbara in pursuit of a degree in Marine Biology. He has acquired a respectable breadth of knowledge pertaining to the local marine ecology and fisheries through his education. He has spent time as a rescue diver, freediver, and is an avid spearfisherman. He also has had several years of experience working in the recreational maritime industry before joining the crew of the Condor Express.

Bob - Photographer

Bob Condor Express CrewBob is the staff photographer on board the Condor Express. He is a Loyola University alum, with graduate studies at UCLA. He has taught biology and marine science at the high school and college level. He is a retired 100-ton charter boat Captain and Master SCUBA Instructor. His photographs and articles have been published in many marine life publications. Bob is married has a son, a daughter and a grandson.

Captain Fred Benko (1939 - 2013)

Fred Condor Express CrewFred was the founder and creator of the Condor Express business. He was a United States Marine, a Vietnam veteran, and a graduate of George Washington University. Originally from Ohio, Fred was in the local sport-fishing industry as far back as 1973, and in 1979 built the original Condor. In 2002 he began to run exclusively natural history and whale watching trips, he had the Condor Express custom-built to provide the best ocean tours in the world. Fred was very active in the community and served on the boards of many civic institutions. He remains an inspiration to all of us.