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.