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Disney will Race in 2007

LOS ANGELESóRoy E. Disney announced his retirement from sailboat racing at the awards dinner for the 2005 Transpacific Yacht Race a year ago, and now he has another bit of news: his comeback starts with the next Transpac in 2007.

With selection of the crew for his Morning Light documentary film project complete, Disney has confirmed rumors by declaring himself as the first unofficial entry for what will be his 16th Transpac. Now the youngest crew ever to sail the race will have as a counterpoint a 77-year-old skipper.

Disney will charter Pyewacket back from the Orange Coast College of Sailing & Seamanship. He donated the three-year-old maxZ86 to OCC after last year’s race when Pyewacket finished 2 1/2 hours behind Hasso Plattner’s maxZ86, Morning Glory, whose elapsed time of 6 days 16 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds broke Disney’s record of 7:11:41:27 set in 1999 on an earlier Pyewacket.

“The biggest thing is that I really got deeply involved in Transpac again because of the Morning Light project,” Disney said, “and the more I was around it the more nostalgic I got about me in the race, and all of sudden I found myself saying, ‘We could probably rent that big boat back and do it again.’ ”

And maybe reclaim the record?”

“If the wind blows this time there’s a really good chance we’ll break that record,” Disney said.

He will have the same basic crew, including Robbie Haines and navigator Stan Honey, both key figures in the Morning Light project. The only significant modification will be to refit the 18-foot-deep canting keel that was replaced by one only 12-feet deep so the boat could sail into Newport Bay, home of the OCC sailing school. Disney also has planned a thorough checkout with possible upgrades of electronic and mechanical systems, some new rigging and new sails.

Brad Avery, director of the OCC school, said, “It’s good for us. There aren’t too many people out there to whom we’d want to charter a boat like that. It requires an enormous effort. We couldn’t afford to do that.”

Last year in their Transpac debut the maxZ86s finished about two days ahead of the Transpac 52s. Morning Light is a Transpac 52.

“The good thing is that we’ll be far enough ahead of the kids on Morning Light that we can be there at the dock to see the end of the movie,” Disney said.

Pyewacket, whether it sailed or not, had already been declared the scratch boat for 2007 with a rating limit conforming to its configuration when it finished first in the 2004 Newport to Bermuda Race.

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