BARKER, ISLER BEEF UP THE PYEWACKET TEAM. (April 30, 2003 Press Release from www.transpacificyc.org)

LONG BEACH, Calif.---Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker and longtime Stars & Stripes navigator Peter Isler will be new members of the Pyewacket crew when the record-holding Reichel/Pugh 77 sails its last race for Roy E. Disney in the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii in July..

Disney has sold the boat to an undisclosed Asian buyer to make room for a maxZ86---his fourth Pyewacket---currently under construction in New Zealand . That new class will be part of the 2005 Transpac.

The 2003 contest looms as a 2,225-nautical mile match race against Philippe Kahn's own R/P 77, Pegasus, the 2001 Barn Door winner. Barker will play a key role.

Roy E. Disney wasn't able to sail on Pyewacket because of a business conflict, but son Roy Pat Disney (at helm) and new navigator Peter Isler (far right) joined in a record effort.

Roy Pat Disney, son of the owner, said, "We'll need a bunch of good drivers."

And a first-rate navigator. Replacing Stan Honey, who will be sailing his own Cal 40 in a special revival of the class, is a tall order. Honey has won eight of the 17 races he has navigated from the West Coast to Hawaii .

Isler said, "It's gigantic shoes to fill. They're more like snowshoes or Shaquille O'Neal's sneakers."

But any doubts were dismissed after last weekend's 56th Tommy Bahama Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race. Isler, aboard Pyewacket for his first tune-up race with the team, called the move that brought Pyewacket from behind the powerful new Alchemy to win the 125-nautical mile California classic to Baja California in record time.

Roy Pat Disney, who took over as skipper in his father's business-related absence, said, "That boat we were racing was easily faster than us."

But, Isler said, "We jibed about 32 miles from the finish line, essentially on the lay line. [Alchemy's] mistake was that they should have jibed first, because by the time they jibed we had been sailing toward the [finish line]."

Isler and Honey attended Yale at the same time. Isler majored in meteorology, Honey in electrical engineering, and they taught wintertime navigation classes together at Yale Corinthian Yacht Club.

Barker's reputation has not suffered despite his team's dismal 0-5 showing against Switzerland 's Alinghi in the America 's Cup match.

<P."He's a fine sailor [who] got saddled with a boat that was too thin," Roy Pat Disney said. "Because Philippe spends so bloody much money [hiring world-class crews], we felt we needed a bunch of good drivers. That's one of the edges on a long race."

Two years ago Kahn won with what crew member Zan Drejes called "the best crew money can buy." Drejes is a Pyewacket alumnus who won Transpac's top crew award in successive years on the two boats.

Kahn said, "I think that it's a match race with Pyewacket favored because they are Pyewacket. We'll just try to keep up with them and see if we can get lucky."

 

 

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