Of all the 16 yachts entered in this year's Acapulco race, the one most likely to provide genuine cruising comfort for her racing crew, regardless of weather, is John B. Kilroy's gleaming new 73-foot aluminum sloop Kialoa II. As a matter of fact, Jack Kilroy, a real-estate executive whose friends confusingly call him Jim, had his new boat specifically designed for that purpose. His earlier Kialoa had set a race record in the Acapulco and won many other races besides. Now he wanted a boat that would not only race well but be big enough to house his wife and five children in comfort and be easy for them to handle into the bargain.
It was no small order, but Yacht Designers Sparkman and Stephens together with a small task force of special technicians set out to fill it. To begin with, they drew plans for a hull not much different from many they had built before (see next page). Kialoa's flush deck, broken only by a doghouse, her graceful sheer, nicely balanced bow and stern are all characteristic of Olin Stephens. But there the resemblance stops. For one thing, Kialoa, unlike any other sloop-rigged boat of her size, is built of aluminum. Why? "I wanted a boat that is a goer," says Jim Kilroy. "I wanted a boat that was within the capital outlay of a wooden boat. I wanted all of the creature comforts without lessening capacity to sail. And I wanted a boat that didn't leak." Aluminum, in Kilroy's estimation, answered all these requirements. Aluminum, he feels, holds its shape far better than wood, allowing rigging to be set up tighter without fear of altering the boat's contours, and its lightness has permitted Kilroy to pack his new hull with many extra gadgets and still end up with a lighter boat, despite a heavy ballast keel, than Stephens' comparably sized Baruna. The keel, in theory anyway, should carry Kialoa stiffly upwind in heavy airs, like Carry Nation approaching a bar from leeward.
Kilroy is not a man who stops halfway when he decides to do something. "I believe in having the traditional aspects of a boat. Keep them, by all means," he says. "But add some modern technology." Above all, he believes that a boat should be functional—and by functional Kilroy does not mean just workable, he means efficiently workable. He is quite willing, for instance, to suffer the jeers and jibes of the hair-shirt boys if an air conditioner will make his crew more effective. Therefore Kialoa is air-conditioned. Few ocean racers are air-conditioned, and those that are have conditioners that can be used only when the boat is tied up at a dock, near a power line. Kialoa suffers from no umbilical restriction. Her conditioning apparatus is patterned on the type installed in Caravelle jets, and it wafts cool air through Kialoa on shore or off.
Conditioning is not always enough. Sometimes it is better to change the air entirely. The atmosphere of an ocean racer's cabin after 10 or 12 mostly unwashed men have eaten, slept and breathed in it for more than a day or two is something short of refreshing. On Kialoa the flip of a switch will turn on a forced-draft system that will blow away a week's fug in an instant. Says Kilroy happily, "When the boat begins to smell like a sweatbox, that blower's going to be nice."
During the hot days of the southward run, Kialoa's cabins will be bathed in a cool glow filtering through deck lights made of airplane windscreen material backed with a heat-insulating gold skin. At night the glow will come from lamps socketed in the aluminum housing for the air-conditioning duct. And, day or night, the lambent air will be lulled by a commercial hi-fi set that plays cartridged tapes instead of discs. Other ocean racers are equipped with canned music but none so nattily as Kialoa, whose owner had a dual purpose in providing it. "We're going to make a tape for the port watch and another for the starboard," he says, chuckling at the suggestion that subliminal intramural competition might be a new technique in racing strategy. "But seriously," he adds, conjuring up a fine vision of Kialoa making a Blue Danube out of Pacific swells or booming into head seas to a strident theme from William Tell, "I think it will make sailing offshore a lot more enjoyable."
In his plans for Kialoa, Kilroy has not forgotten that ocean-racing crews sail mostly on their stomachs. His ship's cook will have nearly every appliance needed for the practice of his art and perhaps one more: a so-called "radar range."
As its name implies, the range is an electronic device, but it does not search for food in the fog; it cooks it almost instantaneously. It can fry up a storm of eggs and bacon and never even scorch the paper plate they lie on. It makes coffee even quicker. Looking ahead to gales and big seas, when the usual fare aboard most ocean racers is nothing more appetizing than soggy peanut-butter sandwiches, Kilroy intends to offer hot TV dinners. Instead of having to juggle pots and pans full of scalding food Kialoa's cook will be able to yank the dinners out of a freezer, stuff them in the range and serve them up in the best split-level tradition.
"I could never understand why boats that cost as much as many luxury houses have such antiquated heads," says Kilroy, turning his attention to the torture chamber that provides moments of horror in 98% of all cruising. His answer is toilets copied from those aboard new jetliners—electrically operated and free of snaking pipes and plumbing.
To many sailormen Kilroy's new boat may sound like a crackpotful of gadgets. She is anything but. "I don't want any Mickey Mouse designs on Kialoa," says Kilroy emphatically. What he wants is a boat that works. Communications between bow and stern on most boats of Kialoa's length are nonexistent during a spinnaker jibe, when the wind whips critical orders clean away. Kialoa is fitted with an intercom that makes it possible for the foredeck man to whisper requests to the afterguard even in a howling gale. Special hatches, with their longest dimension athwartships instead of fore and aft, as is usual, allow sail to be hauled out and stuffed back below far faster than in other boats.
Kialoa's cockpit has received special treatment as well. The positions of winches, gauges and helm were carefully worked out for maximum comfort and minimum confusion. Winches for hauling other sheets were placed precisely where they would do the most good with the least elbow-banging.
Barient, the Tiffany's of winchmakers, built the coffee-grinder winches that haul in Kialoa's huge genoas. They are refinements of those used aboard Gretel in the America's Cup matches and can be linked together or unlinked in a myriad combination of speeds and powers.
On any boat, especially a big one, the trickiest sail-handling job is jibing a spinnaker. Kilroy has fitted Kialoa with a new kind of single-ended spinnaker pole that allows the foredeck crew to stand at the base of the mast to handle lines instead of up forward. In the old method, a man had to sally to the bow's bitter limit to hook and unhook a cat's-cradle of lines, snaps and spars. He was always in dire peril of being garroted, of losing a finger, a hand or even an arm. Kialoa's new system is not exclusive to her, nor is it the complete answer, but it does make jibing simpler, safer, quicker. Kenneth Watts, president of Yacht Dynamics, Inc., the California firm that built Kialoa, says, "It's going to have a great psychological effect on all ocean sailboat racing."
To make sure that all of the new ideas embodied in Kialoa really worked, Watts, Kilroy and their helpers put in hundreds of man-hours of labor. In the oversize Quonset hut where the boat was built they set up complete mock-ups of the cockpit, the galley and strategic deck areas. Expensive time-and-motion studies were made of virtually every operation. "This boat," says her owner, "is to be run and maintained like an airplane, with proper continuing technical manuals, initial-construction manuals, maintenance logs and periodic inspection controls."
The costs of running a boat like Kialoa are way out of line with those of running an airplane of comparable value, according to Kilroy, but he thinks he has an answer. "All components on Kialoa were studied for ease of removal," he explains, his fingers going snap, snap. "Boat maintenance gets expensive when you have to get a man to come down and work on a faulty part. He comes down, looks at the part, then says it has to go back to the shop; only the part is located in an inaccessible spot, and he spends hours disconnecting it. On Kialoa we've installed nearly everything in easy-to-get-at racks, and they can be removed in self-contained units in half an hour or so—like airplanes. The only thing that won't come out in a hurry," says Kilroy wistfully, "is the main engine. You might say that everything else on Kialoa is of the snap-in, snap-out type."
This is true even of the interior paneling. This was prebuilt in sections out of fiber glass backed with polyurethane, and clipped into place just like a jet's cabin. Each section can be unclipped quickly should repairs to wiring or plumbing be necessary.
Every Monday morning during the last four months of Kialoa's construction in the hut at Harbor City, Calif. a board meeting of the nine experts in charge crammed into a small clapboard office a stretch of dust away. The gatherings began at 7:30 in the morning, because it suited the majority, although it meant that Kilroy, who sometimes commutes to work in his Cessna, had to leave his Newport Beach home near dawn. At the meetings problems were hashed over, plans laid. Kilroy took advice from his experts, listened, then gave negative or affirmative decisions quickly. Sometimes he was wrong, often he was right. When wrong he accepted correction; when he thought he was right he brooked no argument. He sometimes gave his experts hell, too, in a quiet, forceful sort of way. "What, if anything, has been done about the sandblasting?" he demanded with a hard stare one morning. "We'll get it done next week," said Johnny Cole, a chunky, cigar-mashing man with 36 years in the aircraft-building business who had never put together a boat of Kialoa's dimensions before. "When next week?" said Kilroy. "Monday," answered Cole. "Saturday afternoon," said Kilroy, closing the discussion, "would be a good time."
It is characteristic of Kilroy that even the choice of rig on his new boat was predicated on efficiency of operation. Neither weight nor cost nor beauty was on his mind when he decided that Kialoa would not be a two-masted yawl or ketch but would be a single-masted sloop. "He wouldn't have a yawl if the rule [the Cruising Club of America's rating rule upon which handicaps are based] gave him the mizzen free," says Kenny Watts. One of Kilroy's theories is that a boat with two masts gives her skipper too many choices. He is constantly forced to decide whether to hoist one mizzen staysail or another, or whether to get along without any. Why, says this efficiency-minded racing yachtsman in effect, waste a lot of time deciding what sails to hoist on a two-masted boat when you could be winning the race with one?
Kilroy is planning to win this race, and if he does not set a race record with Kialoa it will not be for lack of forethought. On the other hand, if he fails, his crew will at least know that they have failed in comfort.