A most venerable sailing club, the Royal Corinthian of Cowes, England, has agreed to start the race, and the Slocum Society Sailing Club, a quiet little affiliation of solo sailing buffs of which McCloskey is world secretary, will take over from then on in.
"There is no need for publicity here," says McCloskey. "Serious solo ocean-racing men in this country already know about it, and we don't want crackpots."
McCloskey, who works with the National Security Agency, knows the value of keeping things under his hat. The project has been silently in the works since the idea originated with Society Member H. G. Hasler of Southampton, England. Hasler pointed out that the society was missing an obvious bet just gathering and distributing data on historic one-man sailing ventures when it could be adding to that lore on its own. McCloskey polled the entire membership on four continents about the idea.
"You might say that 90 were for it," said McCloskey, "either mildly or avidly, while the other 60 were opposed violently. The vice-commodore in England is still absolutely raging mad.
"You might remember," he continued, "that when the Bermuda Race was first discussed it was roundly condemned as lunacy by sport sailors, who predicted that the yachts would end up all over the ocean. Now it's just a joy ride."
"We have major hopes that the race will result in the discovery of suitable untended steering equipment. This would mean the crew could go below and sleep instead of making it an endurance contest by staying up all the time, or taking down sail at night, which is, in effect, pulling off into a parking lot.
"If we didn't have such serious objectives, the race would be like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, just a lot of damn foolishness.
"The Slocum Society is a backer of sailing safety. We would love to see those idiots kept off the water who go to sea without knowing what they are doing and then cost the Coast Guard $20,000 for an air-sea search." McCloskey's folder warns would-be participants that they "have no right to expect rescue operations to be launched on their behalf."
McCloskey estimates that entrants will finish in 40 to 60 days after their start from Cowes. Finish line will probably be Fairhaven, Mass., where old Joshua Slocum, in whose spirit the society is founded, fitted out his little Spray in 1895 for the first singlehanded circumnavigation of the globe.
The prizes? Anything like a Slocum Society version of the America's Cup? A McCloskey snort: "One doesn't sail the Atlantic for prizes. This is sport."