OEX was abandoned after it took on too much water about 200 miles off the coast of Southern California; Pyewacket, a Transpac entry, came to the rescue.
SAN DIEGO (AP/Log News Service)—A crew in the 50th Transpacific Race was rescued by fellow competitor Roy Disney, Jr., after abandoning its sinking 68-foot sailboat about 200 miles off the coast of Southern California, July 15.
Race officials said Disney’s Pyewacket, an Andrews 70, picked up the nine-man crew of John Sangmeister’s OEX, a Santa Cruz 70, and that all were safe. Pyewacket, which had a crew of 10, returned to Long Beach with OEX’s crew on board on July 16.
Race chairman Tom Trujillo said OEX sank. The yacht had reported that its rudderpost was damaged, causing it to take on water. Race officials said they received an emergency signal from OEX at 2 a.m., followed one hour later by a message from Pyewacket that it had picked up the crew of the sinking yacht. Trujillo said it’s not known how the rudderpost was damaged. No injuries were reported.
Disney, the grandnephew of Walt Disney, said he was just getting out of his bunk at 2:30 a.m. on July 15 when he heard a distress call from another sailboat in the 50th Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
Disney couldn’t immediately make out the words but knew it was urgent. He definitely heard “OEX,” the name of the yacht owned by friend and sailing rival John Sangmeister, and then “abandon ship.”
Disney and another crewman aboard Pyewacket roused the navigator to figure out where OEX was.
“We thought they were 30 miles to the south, but they were less than two miles ahead of us. It was easy to change direction, 2 degrees or so, and we were there in 15 minutes,” Disney said.
Pyewacket sailed alongside the life rafts and retrieved OEX’s nine-person crew.
The race was also over for Pyewacket.
“Rule No. 1 in the Racing Rules of Sailing is save lives. It’s not even a question,” Disney said in a phone interview from his home in the L.A. area on July 16.
Sangmeister was part of Dennis Conner’s winning America’s Cup campaign in 1986-87 and sailed again with Conner in 1992. He owns Gladstone’s restaurant in Long Beach.
This was Sangmeister’s eighth Transpac, which covers 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
Besides OEX, six other boats have retired. The race began with a record 90 boats, which left Los Angeles in three staggered starts beginning on July 10.
– The Log’s News Service contributed to this report by AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson.