US SAILING Mourns the Passing of Roy Disney

Roy Edward Disney passed away Wednesday after a long battle with stomach cancer. In 2008, US SAILING, national governing body of the sport, awarded Disney its prestigious Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for his outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the U.S. over many years. Disney was 79.

Gary Jobson, president of US SAILING, had this to say about what Disney meant to the sport: “Roy Disney was great for the sport of sailing. He set a high example for all of us, as a top competitor, visionary and philanthropist. Roy has inspired so many young people to follow their dream of life on the water. Our sport will miss him.”

Roy E. Disney's involvement in the sport goes back decades. As a long-time, reliable supporter of the sport, his impact has been has been felt across the board: from youth sailing to the Olympic level of the sport and beyond. When US SAILING created the medalist donor program to support the athletes of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, Disney was the first donor to jump on board at the highest level. He is also a top contributor to the California International Sailing Association and several other sailing organizations.

Not only does Disney support various levels of the sport, he is also an accomplished sailor with many titles to his name. He has set records in many of offshore races, including the Transpac Race (which he has sailed 16 times and won once), the Chicago Mackinac Race, and the Newport-Bermuda Race. In 1999, Disney fulfilled a lifelong dream when he and the 12-member crew of his 74-foot Pyewacket sloop -- named for the witch's cat in the 1958 film "Bell, Book & Candle" -- won the biannual, 2,225-mile Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, setting a course record.

Combining his passion for sailing and for filmmaking, Disney was a powerful voice for sailing, as well as a promoter. His documentary movie "Morning Light," which he co-produced with his wife Leslie DeMeuse-Disney, put a new spotlight on the sport of sailing. “Sailing with Roy was like being adopted by a family,” explained Stan Honey, board member of US SAILING. “He got so much out of his crew, because his loyalty was astounding. His crew was never worried about losing their job. Instead, they just focused on winning.”