Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Kialoa US-1- Dare to Win - The Big Crash off Sydney Heads

by Peter Allison and Andy Rose on 21 Nov 2012
Damage to Kialoa - Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win . ..

The collision between two US-flagged maxi yachts, Windward Passage (Fritz Johnson) and Kialoa III (Jim Kilroy) during the first race of the 1977 Southern Cross Cup sailed ahead of the 1977 Sydney Hobart Race, was a talking point around international sailing circles for several days.

Then followed the Herculean effort to get Kialoa III back into trim for the Sydney Hobart.

Here we have two perspectives on the incident. The first from the recently released book, Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win, written by tactician Andy Rose, and the second by crewman Peter Allison, positioned further forward in Kialoa.

Kialoa US-1: Dare to Win has many contributions from her crew along with the story told by owner/skipper Jim Kilroy.

Tactician Andy Rose's view:

We all were looking forward to the Southern Cross series in Sydney before the Sydney-Hobart Race, especially because our archrival, Windward Passage, was also competing. The first race was a triangle, windward leeward course and it was blowing! As I remember, it was probably about 18-20 knots at the start and increased from there. I was tactician and Jim was steering. We got the start and had an intense weather leg with Passage but led her to the weather mark. She was a bit faster on the reaches but we held her off to the next mark and then sailed down the second of the reaching legs on the triangle with a large chute, and full mizzen (we were still a ketch in those days).

As we approached the leeward mark, Passage was threatening to get an 'inside overlap' on us which would have required us to give them room to round the mark and would have resulted in them passing us. My crewmate from the America's Cup on Australia, Michael Summerton, was on the bow of Passage and both boats were going about 13-14 knots.

As we approached the 'two boat length circle' by which time the overlap would have had to be established, they did not get quite close enough to us to establish it. I stood on the back of the boat and yelled to Mike that there was no overlap and he agreed. (They were about a half boat to a boat length or so behind us at the time).

The crew did a great job of hoisting a storm jib, dousing the chute and preparing boat to go upwind. I then turned back to Jim and asked that he not get too close to the mark at first, and instead to turn slowly so that when the bow reached the mark, the boat already be established on its 'close hauled' course going upwind.

That makes it a certainty that the boat behind will have to sail in disturbed air and then will have to tack away at relatively slow speed. It would allow us to gain back part of what we lost on the reaches right away. But, if you didn't expect us to do a good rounding, it would seem to open up a space between the mark and us ... even though when our turn was complete, there would be no such space. As Jim turned up into the wind, I happened to look back and saw that Mike was waving his helmsman to come 'up' to a course that would put them between us and the mark. Or, as it turned out, a course that would put them right through our cockpit!

David 'Fang' Kilponen was our navigator and he told me later than when I saw Passage intended to go in between us, I said something like, 'I'm getting the heck out of here!' (My words may have been more vivid.) In any event, as it was clear that they were headed right at us, Fang had seen enough and jumped overboard, reckoning as he said later that I had 'saved his life' (it would take more than an 80,000 pound boat hitting us to kill Fang).

Evidently, I ran forward to get out of the way (Sorry, Jim!). A couple of seconds after that, they 'T-boned' us, that is, hit us on a perpendicular course almost right at the steering station.

Passage had a bowsprit with a large steel bobstay that fastened the sprit to the hull and allowed the headstay to be attached at the front of the bowsprit. The solid bobstay had a diameter of an inch and a half or so, and acted like a can opener on our strong aluminum hull, punching a hole a couple of feet down from the rail and about the same distance into the deck and cockpit. They were far enough in that the bowsprit tore our mizzen.

One of our grinders was a doctor, and when he looked back and saw their bow in our cockpit, our wheel bent, and no sign of Jim. His first thought was that Jim was dead.

Meanwhile, on the bow, Jim's son, John Kilroy, Jr., was thrown overboard by the force of the collision, which pivoted the boat about ten to fifteen feet into the wind and literally took the bow out from under him. He was so busy with getting the chute down and tidying up that he didn't even know that we had been hit and instead thought he had just clumsily fallen overboard. Far from it!

A couple of us tried and eventually succeeded in pushing Passage out of our cockpit and freed the boats, which allowed Jim to struggle up from where he was huddled under the badly bent wheel to leeward. Not only was he not dead, he wasn't even hurt. His first words to me were something like, 'Well, Andy, I told you I'd do anything you told me to do.'

At that moment, as I have told many people over the years, I decided that I would sail around the world backward with a blindfold on if Jim asked me to. Talk about grace under pressure!

Once we got everyone back on board and returned to the dock under power, we protested Windward Passage and the race committee agreed with what was pretty obvious to us, that Passage had no overlap and therefore had no right to go inside of us. While it didn't help us much, she was disqualified from the race and would have had to pay for the cost of our repair although I don't know if Jim ever charged them.

We obviously couldn't sail in the rest of the Southern Cross Series but Bruce 'Goose' Kendell quickly assembled his welding equipment and some new aluminum plates and patched the holes in plenty of time for the Hobart Race. Now, we had even more reason to want to beat Passage in that one.


Peter Allison saw the crash off Sydney Heads and its aftermath this way:

Moments before the collision at the rounding mark, I recall being on the mid deck and seeing Windward Passage heading towards our port quarter at about 12 knots.

My first thoughts were that they were going to dip under our stern at the last moment, but they closed on us so fast and hit with such enormous impact, that they mounted our cockpit.

was driving and narrowly averted serious injury as he threw himself clear of the helm. It was just as well as the bow sprit of Passage severely damaged the wheel. John Kilroy Junior was on the foredeck tidying up after the spinnaker drop, and the violent lurch threw both he and our Aussie navigator into the water.

There was quite a big sea running at the time and once we established that there were no serious injuries to anyone on either boat, we assessed the damage as Passage slowly slid off our cockpit combing.

Kialoa had a large hole in the hull above the waterline and significant deck damage. This was caused by a combination of the bow and the sawing action of the heavy wire bobstay which connects the bowsprit to the waterline.

The impact was so heavy the bobstay parted and put Passage at serious risk of losing their main mast as the bowsprit and headstay were no longer supported.

The two boats limped back to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and work began in earnest to repair the damage in time for the Sydney-Hobart Classic only days away. In the meantime, the drama on the water continued into the protest room. Kialoa won the protest but little did we know that there would be a further close encounter between the two boats as we raced neck and neck down the NSW coast towards Hobart and a ‘Southerly Buster’ brewing in Bass Straight.

The close quarter duel we had with our arch rival Windward Passage was scintillating stuff, but the tactical blow dealt from our afterguard was legendary.

We were tight reaching under spinnaker and well within sight of Passage who was pretty much abeam to weather and close in shore. At this point, the water was flat and we were enjoying beautiful sailing conditions but we knew it was all going to turn to custard when we encountered the forecast SW gale.

A call was made from the cockpit to get the number 5 on deck and start to reef the main. The wind intensified very quickly but we fortunately dumped the kite before it became too difficult to handle.

We can only surmise that Passage thought we were premature in our shortening of sail as their delay in dropping their spinnaker was very costly. They crossed our stern fighting with their spinnaker and within half and hour we had gained a healthy lead in the fight for line honours. The weather deteriorated and the seas built significantly over the next 30 hours as we crossed Bass Straight, but any discomfort was more than compensated for by knowing Passage was behind and well below us in equally ugly conditions.

The weather abated, the sun came out and spirits soared as we sailed across Storm Bay and into the Derwent River. Into the evening, the conditions lightened considerably and we finally drifted across the finish line, all sharing that feeling of elation in being on Kialoa and finishing first.

The 446-page hardcover book Kialoa US-!: Dare to Win is available for US $50.00 at Barnes & Noble, and online at www.Amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com, and www.smithkerr.com.

Kialoa US-1:Dare to Win is published by Smith/Kerr Associates and its imprint Seapoint Books. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the John B. and Nelly Llanos Kilroy Foundation, to be contributed to youth sailing and educational purposes. For more information, visit www.kialoa-us1.com.

Zhik ZKG 660x82PredictWind.com 2014Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

Single-handed Sailing Society Corinthian images by pressure-drop.us
Single-handed Sailing Society Corinthian Race images Single-handed Sailing Society Corinthian Race images
Posted today at 7:33 pm
Single Handed Sailing Society Corinthian Race – Great day on the bay
With the remnants of the the early flood, most boats mad short work of the downhill ride to Blossom from starting area Greg Nelsen, fresh off a Double Handed Farallones race win, adds another pickle dish to his collection, winning Singlehanded Sportboat Division with an elapsed time of 03:20:37 on his Azzura 1000 Outsider. A pending protest should render that the fastest monohull around the track.
Posted today at 6:56 pm
Princess Sofia Trophy – Park’s pride as he prepares for Palma finale
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park believes the British Sailing Team is in the right place for multi-medal winning success ‘Sparky’, as Park is commonly known, will preside over some 63 British Sailing Team athletes at the first major European event of the year, before moving on to a new role at British Cycling next month after over 20 years with the RYA.
Posted today at 10:52 am
Volvo Ocean Race - Team AkzoNobel leaves Persico
The Simeon Tienpont skippered Team AkzoNobel Volvo65 has left the building facility at Persico Marine in Bergamo The Simeon Tienpont skippered Team AkzoNobel Volvo65 has left the building facility at Persico Marine in Bergamo, Italy to The Boatyard in Lisbon under the custodianship of GAC Pindar. Before she left the yard at Persico the team had a celebration to mark the end of the build phase.
Posted today at 10:51 am
New boats and old favourites prepare for BVI Spring Regatta
BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival 2017 is pleased to welcome C&C 30 Sportboat/Gunboat fleets to this year's event Always offering up something new and different, the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival 2017 is pleased to welcome the C&C 30 Sportboat and Gunboat fleets to this year's event which kicks off on Monday with registration at noon and opening party at 6pm.
Posted today at 3:07 am
Australian National Championship – Team Beau Geste comes out on top
There was a great crew, including long time friend and teammate at Oracle and Artemis, David Brooke Gavin Brady, who runs the Beau Geste Team, invite me to be the helmsman for two series down here in Oz. Gavin and I sailed together on AmericaOne in the 2000 America’s Cup and again on Money Penny in 2008.
Posted on 26 Mar
St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 - Day 2
Six to eight foot seas off island's east end, gusts blowing to 20 to 25 knots and mix of rain and sun all added to fun. The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) proved its reputation as the 'Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing' by superbly delivering on its signature mix of round the rocks and round the buoy courses on the event's second day of competition. What's more, six to eight foot seas off the island's east end, gusts blowing to 20 to 25 knots and a mix of rain and sun all added to the fun.
Posted on 26 Mar
St. Thomas International Regatta - Day 2 action-shots by Dean Barnes
Dean Barnes was on water at St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action. Photographer Dean Barnes was on water at St. Thomas International Regatta 2017 and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action.
Posted on 26 Mar
St. Thomas International Regatta – Day 1 – Wind was the word
Competitors in the Large Offshore Multihull Class especially reveled in the afternoon breeze. These polar-opposite conditions plus the challenge of round the islands rather than strictly buoy racing proved the talk of why some of the best sailors in the Caribbean, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand put STIR on their list of must-do’ regattas each year.
Posted on 26 Mar
Meet Clipper 2017-18 Race skipper Gaëtan Thomas
This summer Gaëtan Thomas will make history as the first Belgian Skipper to lead a team around the world in Clipper Race This summer Gaëtan Thomas will make history as the first Belgian Skipper to lead a team around the world in the Clipper Race.
Posted on 26 Mar