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MS Amlin Seamanship Award 2019 goes to Roy Disney

by Chris Jones 19 Sep 2019 09:00 BST
Roy Disney at the YJA MS Amlin Awards Gala Dinner © Sally Golden

Roy P. Disney and crew are declared the winners of the MS Amlin Seamanship Award 2019 for their selfless action rescuing John Sangmeister and his crew following catastrophic damage to their Santa Cruz 70, OEX, during the Transpac Race 2019. Selected as the winners from a record number of entries, Roy received the trophy at the prestigious YJA MS Amlin Yachtsman of the Year Awards Gala Dinner on Friday night in Southampton.

On Saturday 13th July Roy P. Disney and crew set sail from San Pedro California aboard his Andrews 70, Pyewacket, to compete in his 23rd Transpac race. Little did they know that less than two days later, their race would be taking a dramatic turn.

At 0200 on July 15th, Roy was just waking for his watch when he heard an urgent radio transmission from OEX issuing their intention to abandon ship due to rapid water ingress from a damaged rudder post. Unfortunately, despite courageous attempts to construct a makeshift repair and keep on top of the flooding with pumps and buckets, the crew had no choice but to abandon OEX, which subsequently sank.

After a quick consultation with Pyewacket's navigator, Roy altered course to go to OEX's rescue. One hour after the first emergency signal was activated by OEX, Pyewacket contacted Tranpac's race headquarters to report that they had safely picked up all 10 crew members from OEX, with no reported injuries.

Paul Knox-Johnston, MS Amlin Boat Insurance Business Development Manager said, "The instantaneous decision to abandon Pyewacket's race, when other yachts a similar distance away could have also come to OEX's rescue, is what sets Roy and his crew apart and made them an easy choice as the winners of the MS Amlin Seamanship award 2019. To have achieved such a smooth rescue is testament to the calm, professional and highly skilled manner in which Roy managed the rescue operation."

Responding to the emergency signal so promptly meant the 10 crew members of OEX only had to spend minutes in their life rafts. They could even see the running lights of Pyewacket as they boarded in the middle of the night, hundreds of miles from land in pitching seas. A scenario which would most definitely have been a terrifying situation despite the experience of everyone involved.

The Transpac, or Transpacific Yacht Race to give it its full name, is one of the most enduring long distance sailing races in the world. The race sees yachts cross the start line in San Pedro, California, and sail a distance of 2225 nautical miles before finishing in Hawaii. 2019 marks the 50th Transpac race, which has been raced biennially, with few exceptions, since 1906.

Having spent much of his life on and around boats, Roy P. Disney is a seriously accomplished ocean sailor, having competed in the America's Cup and many other high profile races. He sailed his first Transpac at the age of 16. He is also well known for his work with young sailors - providing them with the opportunity to sail on boats which they wouldn't otherwise have. Disney is the grand nephew of Walt Disney and the grandson of Roy O. Disney, the founders of the Walt Disney Co. He and his crew are thoroughly deserving winners of the MS Amlin Seamanship Award.

On receipt of the award Disney said, "To carry out the rescue took 10 sailors from Pyewacket and 9 sailors from OEX. The Seamanship Award is not just for me, but for all 19 people involved. We were thankfully right on top of OEX when they needed us and no one had any second thought as to what we had to do. I am sure that if it had been the other way around, they would have taken exactly the same action."

The MS Amlin Seamanship Award, has previously been awarded for great acts of seamanship during the Round the Island Race, but was expanded this year to include any act taking place throughout the year. The response to the competition was excellent with entries coming in from around the world.

MS Amlin Yacht are boat insurance specialists and have a policy to suit everyone's lifestyle on the water. For more details about their insurance policies or to get a competitive quote visit or call 01732 223650.

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