Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, July 12, 1999

Y A C H T _ R A C I N G

Southerly course was
smart move for Pyewacket

By Ray Pendleton
Special to the Star-Bulletin


At 9:41 Saturday night, the 72-foot racing sloop Pyewacket blasted across the Diamond Head finish line to set a new Transpacific Yacht Race elapsed time record of 7 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes and 27 seconds.

With owner, Roy E. Disney, at the wheel, it was a fitting end to a biennial race record that had personally eluded him.

In the last Transpac, in 1997, Disney's entry -- also named Pyewacket -- had broken the 20-year-long record previously held by the 67-foot sloop Merlin, but it was with Disney's son, Roy Pat, at the helm because the senior Disney had been sidelined with a broken leg.

"It's a lot more fun this way," Disney said, when asked how it felt to be a participant this time instead of a spectator.

Considering there have only been 10 Transpac record holders over its 97-year history, Disney was quick to sum up his success in beating a record set so recently.

"It blew all the way across (from Los Angeles to Honolulu)," Disney said, "and the boat is just incredibly fast."

Disney also gave credit to just having a smooth, error-free crossing.

"Nothing unusual happened," he said. "We had one big day, some 350 miles (in 24 hours), on about the third or fourth day, but nothing sensational happened, we just went exactly the right way, and Stan Honey (his navigator) put us in those places."

Going the right way meant heading Pyewacket more to the south than his most direct competition and third-place finisher, the 75-foot maxi sled Zephyrus IV, owned by Bob McNeil and John Parrish, which had taken a more northerly course.

"South is not usually the right way," Disney said, "but, looking at the weather map, there was a major lot of logic that said 'go south' and we did."

By taking line honors in this year's Transpac, Pyewacket, Disney, and his crew will be awarded the "Barn Door" trophy -- a desk-sized slab of koa wood -- at Friday night's awards banquet. It is the traditional prize for the first place-on-elapsed time yacht.

But, perhaps even more significantly, they will also be recipients of a new trophy recently deeded to the Transpacific Yacht Race by none other than Disney.

This new four-foot, five-inch tall trophy, first suggested by Bill Lee (builder of the long-time record holder Merlin) and commissioned by Disney, recognizes each of the past elapsed time record holders. It will now have the name Pyewacket recorded on it -- twice in two years.

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