Roy Disney rescues competitor from sinking yacht in Transpac

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019
FILE - Roy E. Disney, left poses with his son, Roy Pat Disney after the younger Disney skippered, the sailing ship Pyewacket, Sunday, July 22, 2007.

SAN DIEGO -- A crew in the 50th Transpacific Race was rescued by fellow competitor Roy Disney, the grandnephew of Walt Disney, after abandoning its sinking 70-foot sailboat early Monday.

Race officials said Disney's Pyewacket, an Andrews 70, picked up the nine-man crew of John Sangmeister's OEX, a Santa Cruz 70, and that all were safe. Pyewacket, which has a crew of 10, was heading back to Los Angeles and due in early Tuesday.

Race chairman Tom Trujillo said OEX sank. The yacht reported that its rudder post was damaged, causing it to take on water. Race officials said they received an emergency signal from OEX at 2 a.m., followed one hour later by a message from Pyewacket that it had picked up the sinking yacht's crew. Trujillo said it's not known how the rudder post was damaged.

Sangmeister was part of Dennis Conner's winning America's Cup campaign in 1986-87 and sailed again with Conner in 1992. He owns Gladstone's restaurant in Long Beach.

This was Sangmeister's eighth Transpac, which covers 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

In 2013, he was first to finish aboard his trimaran Tritium but his attempt at setting the race record was dashed when the boat hit six telephone poles in a debris field from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan. He said the crew had to slow down for 14 hours to make repairs, and missed setting the speed record by 90 minutes.

Also Monday, Giovanni Soldini's trimaran Maserati collided with "a big floating object" while sailing at 23 to 24 knots, damaging the bow of the port hull and the wing on the rudder.

The crew reported that it stopped for an hour to repair what it could and then resumed sailing.

"We couldn't understand what it was, but it was very big, at least one meter (3.28 feet) high out of the water," the Italian skipper said in a release.

He said the veteran crew was shaken by the collision.

"We suddenly stopped during the night. It was quite scary. If we had hit the object one meter to the right, quite tall and heavy, we would've wrecked the whole engine."

Besides OEX, six other boats have retired. The race began with a record 90 boats, which left Los Angeles last week in three staggered starts.