Walt Disney's nephew - a record-breaking yachtsman and fervent supporter of youth sailing - dies aged 79

Roy Edward Disney, nephew of Disney founder Walt and son of co-founder Roy O. Disney, died yesterday (Wednesday 16 December) in Newport Beach, California after a year-long battle with stomach cancer. He was 79.

He had a long-term relationship with the California International Sailing Association (CISA) foundation – a relationship that has provided boats, funding and opportunities for thousands of young sailors to become acquainted with the sport, improve their skills and to pursue their sailing goals and dreams. “Junior sailing in Southern California would not be what it is today without Roy’s support,” said Tim Hogan, former CISA President. Disney’s passing will not end his involvement with that foundation.

In the mid 1980s, Disney was instrumental in bringing sled racing to the West Coast. He was the founding president of the ULDB 70 Association and loved offshore racing. His favorite race was the Transpac, by a huge margin. In 1999, he set an elapsed time record for that race in Pyewacket III, breaking the record set two years earlier by his son, Roy P. Disney – filling in for dad who had broken his leg shortly before that race started.

A long time member of the Transpac Board of Directors, he has heavily supported the organization and the race in an abundance of ways. Roy, along with his wife Leslie, produced Morning Light – an inspiring true-life feature film that gave 15 young sailors a chance to sail their own TP52 in the Transpac Race.

Roy Disney is survived by his wife Leslie, four children from his previous marriage to Patricia Dailey Disney, as well as 16 grandchildren. Funeral services will be private, followed by cremation. His ashes will be scattered at sea.

Donations can be made in his name to the California International Sailing Association, to benefit youth sailing.