About seven years ago, self-proclaimed 'boat junkie' Gary Helms had an experience that "twisted my entire perception of what sailing was all about." At the time, he'd owned a number of boats, including a Norseman 40, Islander 44, Mapleleaf 48 and Moore 24. Then he took a ride on a Corsair F-27 trimaran and was hooked immediately. In fact, he liked 'funny boats' so much, his Helms Yachts brokerage became the Northern California dealer for Corsair.
Gary will be sailing the biggest and newest boat offered by the company, the F-31, and as one of only two multihulls in this year's race, he'll have a good shot at first to finish honors. Speed is definitely on the agenda for Helms, who plans to head as far south as necessary to avoid the Pacific High. "I don't like getting stuck in light air," he says. "I'm looking for high winds and high speeds!"
As preparation for the race, Helms has sailed the two-year-old Bad Boy hard for the two years he's owned it. The bugs have long since been worked out and the fine tuning completed. Gary gives a special nod of thanks to Gal Bar-Or, the owner of another F-31 in the Bay Area, for the loan of some solar panels and other miscellaneous equipment.
Helms hopes his Navico Autohelm will steer the boat as much as 60% of the time because, as he says, "I love to sleep underway." One of his main 'alarms' turns out to be Bad Boy itself. "When the boat gets up to speeds above 20, I'm usually awake!" he says.
"My wife Jean and my two kids Adam and Staci have been very supportive," Gary says. "I rented a house for them on the beach at Hanalei Bay. After days of hard sailing, I'm already looking forward to relaxing in one of the prettiest places on earth."
Navigation: GPS (3 aboard), sextant backup; Steering: Autohelm and Navico autopilots; Food: "Nothing fancy, just basic."
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