Jim Kilroy: A good sea story

Published on January 26th, 2015

Inducted into the U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame, Jim Kilroy’s ocean racing yachts, all name Kialoa, amassed a record of victories that remains unrivaled in the highest levels of Grand Prix racing. Equally successful in business, Kilroy’s autobiography Kialoa US-1 – Dare to Win provides the no-hold-barred, behind the scenes story of commerce and competition. Here’s an excerpt…

It was during the 1982 SORC, in the 1982 St. Petersburg-Ft. Lauderdale Race. We were surfing downwind towards a buoy off Rebecca Shoals, slightly inside the lay line. At the buoy, we’d need to jibe around the mark. Everyone was in position, the chart showed ample water depth, and I called “jibe.” Justin was on the bow holding the lazy wire after guy to insert in the spinnaker pole on the other side of the boat after the jibe.

Our navigator, Allen Puckett, having carefully reviewed our navigational chart, was behind me on the short afterdeck. Boat speed suddenly stopped from about 11-12 knots to zero: KIALOA IV had hit the sandy bottom. Allen Puckett flew over my head and Justin was 20-30 feet in the air above KIALOA’s bow.

My job was to keep the bow under Justin. (Don’t worry about Allen. He had already landed on the deck.) Well, we did, and Justin made a soft landing. A potential disaster was now a funny, humorous event – a good sea story that was told many times after. I can still remember the look in Justin’s eyes! Unusual to say the least!

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