SI Vault
Hugh Whall
February 03, 1964
The way Real Estate Man Jim Kilroy sees it, a pampered crew is an efficient crew. And to prove the point he has built 'Kialoa,' designed to win the forthcoming race by keeping its crewmen fat and happy
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February 03, 1964

New Boat Seeks Speed Through Luxury

The way Real Estate Man Jim Kilroy sees it, a pampered crew is an efficient crew. And to prove the point he has built 'Kialoa,' designed to win the forthcoming race by keeping its crewmen fat and happy

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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.

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