Last May, Transpac race veteran Roy E. Disney announced plans for The Morning Light Project, a Disney-produced, unscripted, real-life adventure film featuring 15 young sailors competing in the 44th Transpac Race from California to Hawaii in July 2007. The film will chronicle the recruitment, training and performance of sailors as young as 18 as they build a team and compete in the 2,225-nm race.
As of Jan. 3, 2007, crew selection is complete and four rigorous months of training have begun. Two women and 13 men were chosen from a group of 30 finalists. The selection process included daily team-building exercises and sailing aboard one of four Catalina 37s chartered from the Long Beach Sailing Foundation. A member of the selection committee was aboard each of the Catalinas while executive producers Roy Disney and Leslie DeMeuse and sailing team manager Robbie Haines observed from a chase boat. Disney said, “I think we got an excellent sailing team. They’re all great sailors and have good character, which could be said for all 30 of them. The decisions weren’t easy.”
Following crew selections in Long Beach the 15 traveled to Hawaii in November where master Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson introduced them to ancient techniques of navigation. Back in Hawaii, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann welcomed them, and they are set to get a first look at their Transpac 52, Morning Light, and continue training.
Roy Disney, who announced his retirement from sailboat racing in 2005, will be making a comeback this year. As the first unofficial entry in the 2007 Transpac he plans to charter his former maxZ86 Pyewacket back from the Orange Coast College of Sailing and Seamanship with hopes of breaking the record of Hasso Plattner’s maxZ86, Morning Glory. In their Transpac debut the maxZ86s finished about two days ahead of the Transpac 52s.
“The good thing is that we’ll be far enough ahead of the kids on Morning Light that we can be there at the dock to see the end of the movie,” Disney said.