A Transpac Challenge: 'Old Men' and The Sea
At first glance, it might appear that Lloyd SELLINGER and his friends were under a misconception that the Centennial Transpacific Yacht Race planned to run an Ancient Mariner class this summer. Actually, they're serious, eager, able and probably farther along in preparations for their July 11 start than most of their rivals in the 2,225-nautical romp from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
Sellinger's basic rule is that everybody on his Cal 40, Bubala, must be age 65 or older. He had no trouble finding prospects. His most difficult task has been to tell a half-dozen who applied that they hadn't made the cut. 'I did not want to hurt anyone's feelings,' the Newport Beach sailor said.
Inspiration came from Sellinger's own bid to sail on someone else's Cal 40 in 2003. 'But after awhile the skipper asked me how old I was and what condition my heart was in,' he said. 'I felt those questions were very tacky, to say the least. Needless to say, I didn't get a spot on the crew, which made me really mad. 'I'll show them,' I said.'
This weekend he plans his seventh in a series of races and distance cruises-this one of about 180 miles to Santa Barbara Island and returning around Santa Catalina Island off the California coast. That will meet the race's qualification standard of having done at least one offshore sail of 160 miles or more.
A candidate to fill the sixth and last crew position will be on board. The first five spots are set. 'If everything goes well, by the time we come back we'll have all five, plus me,' said Sellinger, who will be 72 in February.
Besides sailing ability, each man has been assigned a special responsibility. Andy SZAZ, 67, Newport Beach, is the most experienced racer and will be tactician and trainer. Jim DOHERTY, 68, Playa del Rey, Calif., will handle first aid. Herb HUBER, 67, Redwood City, Calif., will oversee safety issues. Mike GASS, 65, a Long Beach liveaboard sailor, will do weather, navigation and communication-and cook. 'He's a great cook,' Sellinger said.
Szaz has sailed to Hawaii double-handed, Gass single-handed both ways, and the others have long offshore experience. 'Most of those [who applied] were fine sailors,' Sellinger said, 'but I was worried about the ability and agility to be active on the boat.'
Sellinger also looked for compatibility 'and the ability to relax and be calm and not get excited over minor crises, because there's going to be a lot of stuff going on that we can't anticipate. I need guys that I can count on. I'm concerned about the safety of the crew.'
Safety at Sea Seminars Scheduled
Transpac requires that at least 30% of a boat's crew and at least two members, including the owner/charterer, must have attended a US Sailing-sanctioned Safety at Sea Seminar within the last five years before the start of the race.