Two solo ocean racers: One has retired to new passions one nurtures the dream

OUTDOORS

December 01, 1992|By PETER BAKER

These days Bill Homewood of Edgewater is 57 years old and heavily into his kids' swimming team and the basics of golf. Eight years ago, Homewood was charging alone across the Atlantic Ocean in a 31-foot Val Trimaran, Third Turtle.

Timothy Troy of Baltimore is 33 and hard into the dream of racing solo across the oceans of the world.

"You know how it is when something bites into you and won't let go?" Homewood said. "With me, it is golf at the moment. I have caught that fever and I can't shake it."

More than a decade ago, the Observor Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race (OSTAR) made Homewood's mind run fast and free -- just as it does now as he tries to solve the mysteries of hooks and slices.

"These days, if I can find an open piece of ground where I can take Jack Nicklaus' book and read and experiment," Homewood said, "I am happy."

But then, Third Turtle sits along a small creek behind Homewood's house, moth-balled for the winter or until a father of two can find time away from his job with an airline company, his family and his golf to take a sail.

Troy's boat, Jarkan Yacht Builders when Australian Kanga Birdles sailed it around the world in the last BOC, sits in Fells Point while a father of two strives to live the dream.

In September 1994, Troy hopes to be on the starting line for the BOC Round the World Race, the Everest of sailing. Troy's interest in the race was fueled by a sailing trip with Mike Plant of Jamestown, R.I., who on Nov. 25 was officially listed as missing and presumed dead in the North Atlantic.

After that sail with Plant, Troy said in an interview with The Sun in January, "I wanted to do the BOC and, man, I wanted to do it bad."

Yesterday, Troy said he intends to go ahead with the project, although he is having trouble raising funds.

Plant, too, had problems putting together the backing for his $1 million campaign.

"But where Mike's boat was a new design," Troy said, "mine is tried and tested. It is a good design, and we know it works. It is not going to break apart in the Southern Ocean like Allied Bank did in the last BOC."

When Homewood raced twice in the OSTAR, he did so on a modest budget. Third Turtle is, plain and simple, a stripped-down, flat-out racing boat. Homewood's toilet was a bucket or a hole in the safety netting between the hulls.

"You look at the guys today, like Mike Plant, who was unquestionably an A-No. 1 sailor," Homewood said, "and you look at the boats they are racing -- light, tall, fast 60-footers with computers and electronics in redundancy -- and you know they have their hands full.

TH "But the truth of the matter is that once you get clear of the land,

you don't really need all that stuff. What you need is 10,000 miles under the keel before you set out, so that you know every inch of the boat in daylight or darkness, fair weather or a gale.

"From what I can see, Plant had not done that."

Troy, who has followed the Plant saga closely, said that the Jamestown sailor may have taken one risk too many.

"That might have really been his downfall," said Troy, who plans to take Jartran into the Atlantic for a shakedown in January. "I plan on being safety conscious in every aspect. By the time I head out, I will have a lot of miles in the boat."

Troy said his wife, Renee, continues to be supportive of his plans. He did, however, keep the Plant story from his children for a time. "But finally I just had to tell them," Troy said.

1% One of the confounding factors in

the Plant business was that he failed to register the identification code of the Emergency Postion Indicating Beacon he carried aboard Coyote.

But, then, Homewood said, "Nobody does that.

"You go in and buy it off the shelf, just like a television or a microwave -- and how many people register those so they can be traced if they are stolen?

"What happens is that once you get to the starting point of the race, then the organization running the race writes down the serial numbers of everything aboard, so they can keep track if something goes wrong."

In 1974, a solo racer named Mike McMullen disappeared in the North Atlantic. No trace of McMullen or his boat was found until a fishing trawler brought up some electronics gear in its nets 10 years later.

"The serial numbers matched those of Mike's equipment," Homewood said, "and sort of bore out a theory that he had been run down [by a ship] and went very quickly."

Homewood figures that Plant, too, may have gone very quickly.

"You look at what's there," Homewood said. "The keel bulb is missing. The life raft is attached, the rig is gone. If I read the signs, he was overpowered in some brief, calamitous moment."

But, Homewood said, it is unlikely that Coyote was run down. Had it been, the hull would have born the scars. Although capsized, Coyote's hull was intact.

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