LONG BEACH, CA-Linda Elias, co-skipper of the Women's Sailing Team, will not compete in the 2,216-mile Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, following emergency surgery Friday, June 27. Co-skipper and navigator Betty Sherman, of San Diego, will assume all responsibilities as captain of the team.

Elias, 46, was hospitalized last Monday due to abdominal pain. Until then, she had worked tirelessly to spearhead the all-women's Transpac campaign aboard the Santa Cruz 50 Bay Wolf. Elias' vision to compete in the biennial Transpac Race stemmed from a 1995 fight to overcome ovarian cancer. "I remember laying on my sofa saying, 'if I survive this, I want to do Transpac again," she said.

The women chartered the competitive ULDB Bay Wolf, aggressively trained and prepared for all aspects of the grueling open ocean race. The team garnered a first place finish in the Fall 1996 Women's One Design Challenge and the 1997 Midwinters Regatta, and have spent many days and nights offshore in frequent practice sessions.

Elias' unexpected five-hour surgery will keep her from the start line, but not from the hearts of her team-mates. "Now we have a different motivation," said Camille Daniels, medic on board the Women's Sailing Team. "We are going to do this for our skipper." While all agree that the experienced crew -- which also includes Pam Dodd-Millett, Lise Evaul, Jean Morris, Molly McCloud, Cheryl Coulter and Betsy Crowfoot -- will go on to compete successfully in the race, it will not be without some "heartache."

"Our charge is to take the feelings we have now and re-focus them into the positive determination to do the best we can in the Transpac," Sherman said. "We have extremely talented people on board -- I can say for sure that our crew is the best prepared; our boat is competitive and very well prepared, and I'm well prepared. We're a team that has sailed together over the course of many years, very successfully. That's unique and that's our advantage."

"While it's a terrible tragedy that Linda will not be joining us on the race, she was very adamant that we go. Both Linda and Mike [Elias' husband] felt it would be even more devastating if it didn't happen at all." "She sees our effort in the larger context of making a positive statement for women in the sport of sailing, and we're going to work doubly hard for Linda, so that she'll be proud of that effort."

Sherman, 38, has dozens of long-distance races on her sailing resume, including three Transpacs. She was part of the successful 1992 America3 campaign for the America's Cup -- performing data analysis and maintaining the onboard hardware and software systems for the racing yachts -- and is a certified US Sailing Association Judge. Co-skipper of the women's Transpac campaign from its inception, Sherman has stepped up to the plate to lead her team-mates to victory.

The Women's Sailing Team is part of a 40-boat fleet of boats racing in the 39th Transpac. Their division departs July 2, 1997, for a ten-to-fourteen day race across the Pacific, finishing off Diamond Head Lighthouse on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.

Anyone wishing to send get-well greetings to co-skipper Linda Elias can send cards to:

Ms. Linda Elias
c/o Long Beach Memorial Hospital
2801 Atlantic Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90801

Anyone wishing to send greetings to the team to be read en-route can send an email BEFORE 10 PM JULY 1 to

Visit the Women's Sailing Team Transpac Challenge Website

WYC Transpac Nav Station

Last modified: Sunday 7/1/97 1705 HST