By Chris Museler
Three classic Cal 40s are racing to
Bermuda this year, one from the West Coast. “We’ve invested a lot
in this race,” says Bill LeRoy after bringing Gone with the Wind
east from San Francisco. “We want to push Sinn Fein hard.” [see related story about Sinn
There were few people who looked more
relaxed than Bill LeRoy did on Wednesday, lounging in the cockpit of
his Cal 40, Gone With the Wind. Maybe his easy going smile is
just a California thing, but the warm sun made him grin a little more.
He’s pleased his boat made it here safely by truck from San Francisco,
and he’s happy there aren’t any tools lying around the cabin sole.
He and his seven crew are ready for their first Bermuda Race.
“This is really just another
said LeRoy, a former Commodore of the St. Francis Yacht Club who owns
the boat with Henson Orser. “Henson was transferred to Connecticut
and I just retired, so I thought it would be great to bring the boat
to him, and do some cruising and the Bermuda Race.” LeRoy has raced
all the major West Coast offshore events including three TransPacs
his Santa Cruz 50 of the same name. The Cal 40 was his next-boat choice
after top navigator and friend Stan Honey recommended the boat. “Stan
says he has a Cal 40 because, ‘It doesn’t have any bad habits.’
And he’s right.”
Gone with the Wind running under spinnaker
Though it is a California class
by Bill Lapworth, built by Jensen Marine) the Cal 40 has always made
news on the East Coast. Two years after the boat was introduced, in
1966 Ted Turner’s Vamp won the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit
and Vincent Learson’s Thunderbird won the Newport Bermuda Race
after a long duel with Bus Mosbacher’s sistership Illusion.
Six Cal 40s sailed in that Bermuda Race and five of them finished in
the top ten on corrected time.
Three Cal 40s will be racing
this year: LeRoy’s Gone with the Wind, Doug Jurrius’
Belle Aurore, and Peter S. Rebovich’s Sinn Fein. In recent history, Sinn Fein’s wins
in the 2006 and 2008 Newport Bermuda Races have brought more attention
to the Cal 40, which began life with a nine-boat order spurred by a
member of the Los Angeles Yacht Club. “Everybody knows and likes
these boats,” said LeRoy, who raced in last weekend’s New York Yacht
Club Annual Regatta. “It’s such a nice feeling to come here because
people have been coming by and giving us the thumbs up and saying,
It’s not often that a boat is brought
from the West Coast for this race. A Kettenburg PCC from Southern
Cyane, pushed Rod Stephens’ NY 32 Mustang hard in the 1950
Bermuda Race. The maxi Kialoa II was first to finish
in 1966, the year of the Cal 40’s near-sweep, and another West Coast
boat, Robon, was first to finish in the stormy 1972 race. The
Phil Rhodes designed Kirawan came east in 2000 from Los Angeles
to sail in the race that she had won back in 1936. Roy Disney brought
Pyewacket east in 2002 and broke the Bermuda Race course record,
and the mini maxi Money Penny raced in 2008.
Californian and Cal 40 owner Stan Honey
will not be on Gone with the Wind. Instead he chose a slightly
less comfortable ride as navigator on board the super maxi Speedboat.
But LeRoy has the next best navigator: Stan’s wife Sally, a two-time
U.S. Yachtswoman of the Year who has raced her and Stan’s Cal 40 to
Hawaii. The team also includes top Bay Area sailors Chris and Phil
Perkins and, from Newport, Susan Daly, a classmate of Stan Honey’s
LeRoy and Orser believe that the boat
is “obviously good for the race,” referring to sistership Sinn
Fein’s back-to-back St. David’s Lighthouse trophy wins. As we
were speaking, Sinn Fein arrived from New Jersey and pulled in
a few slips down. It was the first time LeRoy had seen his rival.
“They’ve done well,” he said.
“We’ve invested a lot in this race. We’re not looking to just
finish. We want to push Sinn Fein hard.”