Roy E. Disney's 75 foot Reichel/Pugh IMS sled Pyewacket was leading the fleet at the noon position report in the Pineapple Cup - Montego Bay Race.
The race to Jamaica started Friday afternoon off Port Everglades, FL with two classes answering the gun and reaching rapidly out into the Gulf Stream in bright, warm sunny conditions. Sailed every two years from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to Montego Bay, Jamaica, the race has this year attracted 17 entries, including 12 maxi-boats.
As the lead boats reached the northern tip of Eleuthra Island in the Bahamas around noon today and prepared to bear off southeast in the Atlantic, Pyewacket enjoyed a narrow lead over Jim Dolan's Langan-designed 76-footer Sagamore. Robert O'Neill's 75-foot Reichel/Pugh sled Zephryus , a virtual sistership of Pyewacket, was positioned close at hand, just to the north of Sagamore and in third place.
Running under spinnakers at eight to nine knots, the first five boats had crossed east of 70 degrees longitude and had gone through Hole in the Wall. Doug Baker's Andrews sled Magnitude was positioned fourth, trailing Pyewacket, but further south and closer to Eleuthra. Bob Towse's Reichel/Pugh 66 Blue Yankee was the furthest boat north, in fifth place.
At stake in the Montego Bay classic is the Pineapple Cup for the best overall performance by a monohull. The big boats are also vying for an ocean racing record that has endured for 29 years - 811 miles from Florida to Jamaica in 3 days, 3 hour, 40 minutes and 7 seconds. The record was set by the Alan Gurney-designed 70-foot Windward Passage in an outstanding feat in 1971. It is one of the remaining monohull records still untoppled in an age of faster, lighter more efficient boats
The course, across the Gulf Stream, down through the islands of the Bahamas and down the Windward Passage to Montego Bay, Jamaica, typically provides a beat, a gradually broadening reach and an exhilarating run to the finish line. The varying conditions along the route stretch the seamanship and navigational skills of the race participants.
Roy Disney has a special interest in the record. Two years ago, after a strong first two-thirds of the race, Pyewacket finished just two hours and three minutes short of the record in dying tradewinds. In '97 Larry Ellison's Sayonara was also unsuccessful.