Hi guys,

I saw this in the December 2010 Latitude 38, in the Letters column. There is some discussion of the founding of the SH Farallones and SHTP, thought it should be here.


Do you have contact info for Amy Boyer? Amy is my aunt
and we lost touch after I moved to France 10 years ago. She
skippered the Wilderness 21 Little Rascal in the '70s while
she was still a teen. That would make her 51 years old now. If
you don't know where she is, could you ask others if they do?
Replies could be sent to me at powersparis@hotmail.com.
Heather Powers
Paris, France

Heather The last we heard of Amy, she was involved in
skiing, sailing, and other outdoor adventure activities in the
Vancouver-Whistler area. It's our understanding that she still
reads Latitude from time to time, so there's a decent chance
you might hear from her.
For those not familiar with Amy, perhaps a little background
is in order, as she was in the thick of the rapid evolution of Northern
California sailing some 30+ years ago. In the spring of '77,
former navy pilot, adventurer, and budding entrepreneur George
Sigler started a sailing gear company of sorts in Oakland called
Survival & Safety. In order to boost the outfi t's profi le, he and
his partner started the Singlehanded Farallones Race. It might
seem laughable now, but this was
in the early days of singlehanding,
and many sailing experts thought
the event represented the height
of irresponsible seamanship and
that many participants would die.
As it turned out, the fi rst fl eet was
a healthy one, but got creamed by
winds to 45 knots and big seas. As
we remember, there were about 70
entries, but only about a dozen of
them including Latitude columnist
Max Ebb fi nished. It was also
noteworthy because Bill Lee, who
had just launched the 67-ft Merlin,
the fi rst large ultralight sled, had the
balls to singlehand his largely untested boat in such challenging
conditions. Lee made the run home from the Farallones at
an average of 14 knots while under greatly shortened white
sails, and was fi rst to fi nish by a large margin. In those days
the race fi nished well down the Oakland Estuary because it
was close to the Survival & Safety store.
Despite the fact that several boats were dismasted, at least
one multihull fl ipped, and hardly anyone fi nished, the always
enthusiastic Sigler thought the only logical next step was a
singlehanded race to Hawaii. And thus the Singlehanded
TransPac was born.
Always looking to generate publicity, Sigler arranged for the
cute, shapely, and adventurous 19-year Amy Boyer to sail in
the event on a Freya 39 he had chartered. But just days before
the start, Sigler chickened out, and gave the boat to Bill Collins,
a school administrator from Berkeley. Seventeen or so days
after the start, everyone but Collins had fi nished, and it was
feared that he'd been lost at sea. In reality, in those pre-SatNav
and pre-GPS days, Collins had sailed past Kauai, and needed
several days to sail back upwind against the trades to the
Hanalei Bay fi nish line. Collins, by the way, later moved to the
U.S. Virgin Islands, where he became successful in a number
of businesses, including a waterfront cart in Charlotte Amalie
that served up the best damned BBQ in the Caribbean.
Having been yanked from the Singlehanded TransPac at
the last minute, Boyer was as pissed as only a young woman
of the '70s who felt she'd been discriminated against because
of her gender could be. So when she learned that Norton Smith
of Mill Valley, who had won the Singlehanded TransPac with
his Santa Cruz 27 Solitaire, was having Tom Wylie design
him the 20-ft American Express for the fi rst ever Mini-Transat,
from England to the Canary Islands and then from the Canary
Islands to Antigua, she saw it as a way to prove herself and
get the last laugh. Somehow she managed to scrape enough
money together to buy the Wilderness 20 Little Rascal and
ship her to the starting line in England.
Once again, it must be remembered that this was way back
in the early days of singlehanded sailing, let alone singlehanding
in very small boats from England to the Eastern Caribbean.
By necessity, navigation was done with a sextant, and there
was no radio communication with land or other competitors.
Reliable EPIRBs didn't exist. Boyer did herself as well as
her youth and gender proud with fi ne fi nishes in both legs.
Smith, of course, won the whole dang thing.
Little Rascal was brought back to the West Coast so Boyer
could compete in the '80 Singlehanded TransPac. She fi nished
second in class and third overall, but was still too young to
legally drink champagne to celebrate her fi nish. To our knowledge,
that was the last time she was in the sailing spotlight.
Had Boyer been French and sailing out of France, she would
have become a household name, if not a national hero. In the
United States, she and her noteworthy achievements became
known to only a few.