Last evening, Roy Disney and Leslie DeMeuse-Disney hosted a West Coast preview showing of outtakes from The Morning Light Project at the Strictly Sail Pacific show. This is the documentary feature film which chronicles the selection, training and TransPac participation of one of the youngest crews ever on that fabled biennial race, sailing one of the fastest boats: the TP 52 Morning Light.
By now, sailors should be at least tacitly familar with this project, as it has gotten a lot of ink in the sailing press. Like everyone else, we had high hopes that it would not only be a cut above the usual ‘reality’ fare, but that it would really capture the essence of both sailing and the TransPac. The first impressions were really encouraging on all counts. This is a very high-quality, no-expenses-spared production, which one would expect of such experienced and talented producers. It is also a really pretty film, with lots of cool sailing shots, nice boats and smiling young people. But about halfway through, there was a defining moment that really tipped the scales into ‘Wow’ territory for us. It was a sequence taken six days into the race. It showed the concerned face of a young grinder as he winds in a spinny sheet. Then he pulls back out of the frame to reveal, in the background, the spinnaker of Samba Pa Ti — the other TP 52 in the ‘07 TransPac and Morning Light’s main competition — only a few boatlengths behind. There was an audible ‘whoa!’ from almost all 100+ people in attendance. (Or maybe our ‘whoa’ was just really loud.) In the middle of the ocean, 1,000 miles from anywhere, these two high-performance sisterships match-raced much of that day, at times no more than three or four boat lengths apart. "I can see them smiling," notes one of the Morning Light crew.
Based on only 30 or 40 minutes of clips — Roy and Leslie kept stressing the film was still very much a work in progress — we formed the following additional impressions: 1) This is going to be an excellent movie. 2) It is going to blow away every concept of a ‘reality’ show. There are no stupid TV plotlines requiring people to be humilitated or ‘voted off the island.’ As Disney noted in a Q&A session afterward, the Morning Light tale is a ‘reality’ story that accentuates the positive in people, not the negative. 3) Part of the goal of this film is to appeal to both sailing and non-sailing audiences, and to get more young people interested in sailboat racing. In our humble opinions, it will accomplish both these goals.
The finished film is due to hit theaters in October. For more on the film, the crew and the project, log onto www.pacifichighproductions.com.