A bumpy ride for Pyewacket

Roy Disney comments on his record breaking ride in the Newport Bermuda Race

Tuesday June 18th 2002, Author: Talbot Wilson, Location: United States

Roy Disney's sled race winner and record breaker. To see more of Tim Wright's photos - click here

Roy Disney's first comment to the press today after his record-breaking arrival in Bermuda after winning the prestigeous Newport Bermuda race was, "you could NOT have wanted to be on the boat."

Disney said that going through the Gulf Stream on the 635 mile ocean race was bone-jarring rough. The big meander in the stream ran parallel to the rhumb line and just to the west. The 25 to 30 knot south southwest winds were stacking up huge square waves against the 4 to 6knt South flowing current.

"At one time we had to go into speed control mode," said tactician Robbie Haines. "We slowed down to 8 to 10 knots, with no headsail and a double reefed mainsail to keep the boat from breaking up."

"We were pounding off the 10 foot waves," Disney added. "As the old guy on the boat, I stayed below much of the time. And the guys were glad not to have to take care of me on the deck. Nobody could sleep because of the sound when the 75 foot sled hit the trough at the bottom of a 10 foot wave, 20 feet from top to
bottom." He added: "The good news is we are in the Gulf Stream. The bad news is we're in the Gulf Stream."

"We had sick people and food was a problem," Disney said. "Nobody wanted to smell food cooking while we were in the stream."

But the racing was great for Pyewacket and nearing Bermuda the crew set up a pool to guess the finish time. One crew said, "With the wind blowing like this, we'll get there in three hours." And "you know who" made him eat those words. A squall came up almost immediately and killed the breeze for several hours.

Pyewacket came in at 19:54:22 EDT on a freshening southerly breeze to finish with an unofficial elapsed time of 53hrs 39min 22sec. The record passage cut 3hrs 52min 28sec off the previous record.

Pyewacket is a 75 foot custom Reichel-Pugh design which holds the TRANSPAC Ocean Race record and has just won all races the in the Caribbean Racing Circuit.

Navigator Stan Honey commented that there was a near perfect line-up of the current eddy North of the stream, the long southeast meander and the current eddy South of the stream, and the wind angle to give them a high-speed close reach most of the way into Bermuda. Honey said, "we had no alternative. We had to go west of the rhumb line to take advantage of all the elements and we went further than our competition. We took a few tacks before we hit the low pressure ridge and the rest of the course was a fetch until a short light air beat the last 10 miles into Bermuda."

Disney came east once before and sailed the Newport Bermuda Race in Shamrock a ketch he had donated to the US Naval Academy. The midshipmen invited Disney and his son to be their guests in the 1982 race, the only race ever delayed because of a hurricane and the one in which the maxi Nirvana set a record. He said it was quite different to say to the midshipmen, "Change the jib" and hear, "Yes Sir, Mr. Disney". " The Pyewacket crew gave me a lot more

Disney wrapped it up saying, "it's a pleasure sailing on a boat when you can count on all the people to do things right. We were concerned about safety throughout the race and the guys were clipped on all the time. We had a great race and we appreciate all the hard work and the organisation at both ends."

The race is organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. This is the 43rd biennial race sailed over a 96 year period.

To see full results from the Newport Bermuda Race, click here

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