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Pyewacket finishes Transpac sans new record

July 23, 2007

HONOLULU — A flying finish almost made the first half of the 44th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii forgettable as Pyewacket's bid for the record fell 9 hours, 7 minutes 44 seconds short Sunday.

Roy Pat Disney, co-skipper with Gregg Hedrick, described the race in brief as "frustrating and exhilarating … and sad."

Frustrating in the first 600 miles of light wind struggling, exhilarating in the final days to the finish that saw them blowing past the landmark finish line off the Diamond Head volcano at 26 knots, and sad that his dad, Roy E. Disney, wasn't along for the ride.

The elder Disney stepped off the boat the day it was to sail but was at the Aloha Tower dock in Honolulu Harbor to greet it, along with hula girls, leis and friends and family of the 19-man crew.

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Pyewacket missed Morning Glory's record of 6 days 16 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds set in the previous race in 2005.

Chip Megeath's Santa Cruz 52, Kokopelli 2, had a three-day head start and led until late on the final morning when the 94-foot Pyewacket swept past to finish first, 1 hour 42 minutes ahead of its older and smaller rival.

That wins no awards in itself, but Pyewacket's claim to this year's fastest elapsed time of 7 days 1 hour 11 minutes 56 seconds will earn it the third Barn Door for a Pyewacket boat, following similar successes in 1997 and '99.

Dean Barker, New Zealand's America's Cup helmsman, sailed on Pyewacket as a change of pace from the intensity of match racing, although the light-wind part mirrored what he experienced at Valencia last month.

"It was a good opportunity to do some ocean racing," Barker said. "It's different to sail a canting keel boat."

Roy Pat Disney said the boat's speed ranged "from zero to 28.8 [knots] this morning before Molokai."

But the highlight was the last wild ride to the finish in following winds of 30 knots gusting to 34.

And if, after Roy E. Disney's efforts to charter his boat back from the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship and powering it up with massive modifications, it wasn't good enough for the record, Robbie Haines, the sailing manager, said, "It just wasn't to be. The boat performed marvelously."

A record wasn't in the wind.

All of those smaller boats started on Thursday, three days ahead of the big boats.

The race's other remaining drama continued far at sea with the two Transpac 52s, Morning Light and Samba Pa Ti, still locked together in a match race on their own little pond.

Sunday morning's roll call reports showed Samba Pa Ti slightly south and still within sight of Morning Light with a one-mile lead.

— From staff reports

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