Linda Elias, one of Southern California's most successful female sailboat racers, died Friday at her home in Surfside of complications from ovarian cancer. She was 52.
She was diagnosed with the disease in 1994. Friends recalled Friday that she would often leave the hospital after difficult chemotherapy sessions and, although weakened, make it to the harbor in time to take part in races.
She was one of the founders of the Team Spirit Breast and Ovarian Cancer Walk, which has raised $170,000.
Elias took part in Transpacific Yacht Races to Hawaii in 1989, '91, '93 and '99. After missing the 1995 race because of treatment that involved several surgeries and chemotherapy, she vowed that she wasn't going to miss it in 1997.
She assembled a team that planned, practiced and prepared for the race. But five days before she was to set sail, her health worsened. Built-up scar tissue from the surgeries caused blockages that sent Elias back for another operation, which ended her hopes of competing. While removing the scar tissue, surgeons discovered a small tumor they otherwise would not have found.
Elias rallied from that hospitalization in time to fly to Hawaii to meet her boat as it arrived in Honolulu.
She won the Women's One-Design Championship at Long Beach in 1992, '94 and '96.
She also sailed in a Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii and in several races to Mexico.
She was a recipient of the Peggy Slater Award as the Southern California Yachting Assn.'s yachtswoman of the year and was past commodore of the Voyager's Yacht Club in Newport Beach.
Elias was born in Whittier and worked for an engineering firm. She did not begin sailing until she was 25, but then pursued it passionately.
She is survived by her husband, Mike Elias; mother, Evelyn Lindskog of Las Vegas; three brothers; and a sister.
A memorial service is scheduled for noon Friday at the Long Beach Yacht Club.