Disney is synonymous with fairytale endings and so it should have come as no surprise when Roy Disney's Pyewacket crossed the line in record-breaking fashion in this year's Newport to Bermuda Race.
The Reichel-Pugh maxi crossed the mark at St. David's at just after 8.54 p.m. last night having completed the 635-mile ocean race in an unofficial elapsed time of 53 hours 39 minutes and 22 seconds, shattering the previous record by three hours 52 minutes and 28 seconds. That mark of 57 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds was set in 1996 by George Coumantaros' maxi Boomerang, who finished a close second at just after 9.17 p.m. - breaking her own record but still trailing behind Pyewacket. Skipper Disney had been predicting great things prior to the race. "We have modified the boat, putting a taller mast on it and a slightly deeper keel and it really speeded the boat up enormously," he said. "I am very excited about how fast it is." And so he should have been with the 75ft yacht setting an electric pace after leaving Newport, Rhode Island on Friday in 20 to 30 knot southwesterly winds. With speeds reaching 14 knots as she headed directly for St David's Lighthouse yesterday morning, her crew had been hopeful of finishing by 6.30 p.m. or even earlier! However, a significant drop in wind slowed her and the rest of the fleet's progress. Race press officer Talbot Wilson said last night: "They had a little wave of thunderstorms go through and it just kind of killed the breeze around Bermuda.
"So although they were still making decent time it was just not what they had been doing during that 24 hour period when they averaged 14 knots." While Pyewacket took line hours, Boomerang was credited with the unofficial overall win on corrected time or after handicaps are taken into account, having been judged to have sailed the course in 52 hours, 57 minutes and 37 seconds, compared to Pyewacket's 53 hours, 14 minutes and 42 seconds. It was still possible for another yacht to come in overnight and break Coumantaros' mark and take the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Trophy. "We don't know about the other boats in that class," said Wilson. "One of the smaller boats could come along, not have the breeze die like it did on Boomerang and Pyewacket and pick up time." There was no word on any of the Bermuda entrants in the race - Rick Spurling's on Hinano, Robert Mulderig on Starr Trail, Stephen Sherwin in Borderlaw, Colin Couper in Babe and Paul Hubbard in Bermuda Oyster. Veteran Bermudian, Kirk Cooper, was on American Ricky Schulman's entry, Temptress.