Roy Edward Disney

January 10, 1930 - December 16, 2009

Los Angeles, California

Roy Edward Disney was a passionate racing sailor and supporter of youth sailing projects. His most beloved race was the Trans Pacific ocean race. He raced it sixteen times and set a course record in 1999 with his 74 foot ultra-light sled, “Pyewacket” finishing in an astounding 7 days, 11 hours and 41 minutes. Disney is part of one of America’s most iconic names in entertainment. His uncle and father founded The Walt Disney Company in 1923. The business grew dramatically and today includes movie studios, amusement parks, broadcast companies, video games, animation production, comic books and a long list of entertainment ventures. He was a graduate of Pomona College (1951) and served as the Vice Chair of The Walt Disney Company. Roy Disney is being inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame for his lifetime of achievement in the sport of sailing.

In 2008 he produced a film with his wife, Leslie DeMeuse Disney, titled “Morning Light” that featured a crew of young sailors competing in the Trans Pacific Race. He understood how special life is under sail and he wanted people to see what offshore racing is all about through the film. In 2008 US Sailing honored Disney with the Nathanael Greene Herreshoff Award, for his lifetime of service to the sport of sailing. He set a high example as a top competitor, visionary and philanthropist. He inspired many young people to follow their dream of life on the water. Disney was a stronger supporter of the USA Olympic sailing program. He was a top contributor to the California International Sailing Association (CISA) based in Long Beach, California. The organization runs high school and college instructional and racing programs. The mission includes getting young people on the water who might not ever have the opportunity. One of CISA’s programs is an annual high performance racing clinic attracting the top junior sailors from across the United States.

Disney owned a series of successful offshore racers that were all named “Pyewacket.” The name refers to a tenacious alley cat featured in the 1958 film, “Bell, Book and Candle.” He raced with many of America’s best sailors, some of whom have been inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, including Stan Honey and Robbie Haines. Disney set records in the Newport to Bermuda Race, the Chicago to Mackinac Race, Pacific Cup (San Francisco to Hawaii), San Diego to Puerto Vallarta, Victoria to Maui, and he won the 2004 Maxi Yacht World Championship in Sardinia, Italy. He served on the Board of Directors of the Transpac Race for many years. He was the founding president of the ULDB Association (Ultra-light Displacement Boat) and a strong proponent of racing sleds on long distance races. His son, Roy Pat Disney, continues to compete in the Transpac and other offshore races.

~Gary Jobson

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