August 2006

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Morning Light Crew to be Chosen from 538 Applicants

LOS ANGELES---Crew applications for Roy E. Disney's Morning Light film project have closed with 538 young sailors, including about 50 from foreign countries, hoping for a position on the team that will sail a Transpac 52 in the 2007 Transpacific Yacht Race.

Candidates for "the youngest crew ever to sail Transpac" are already being pared down to the 30 who will participate in selection trials on Catalina 37s in Long Beach Aug. 5-13, all expenses paid by Pacific High Productions.

The final team of 15 will be announced at the end of those trials and will undergo four months of training on Morning Light in Hawaii starting Jan. 1. They'll race the boat from Los Angeles to Hawaii on their own in July.

"We really must have touched a nerve out there," Disney said. "It's going to be really hard to pick the best of a really outstanding group of people. There wasn't a turkey in the lot. It made our job twice as hard as we thought it was going to be. I feel bad for the kids who won't get to go. We would have loved to taken them all."

Aside from being the youngest, it probably will be the most diverse crew ever to sail Transpac.

Sailing team manager Robbie Haines said, "We're looking for diversity, a crew totally inclusive concerning race and gender."

About 200 of the applications were from young women, many others from minorities. Hampton University, one of the nation's leading colleges and universities for African-American students, is located on the water of the Virginia peninsula and hopes to have its sailing team represented, as do the nation's maritime academies.

The aim is to have a crew younger than the seven young men who sailed on Jon Andron's victorious Cal 40, Argonaut, in the 1969 Transpac that averaged 22.57 years of age. Two of those crew members were 17, but the minimum age for Morning Light will be 18.

"Any applicants who will not be 18 by Jan. 1 of 2007 will not be eligible," Haines said.

All applicants will be notified of their current status on or before July 4.

Disney recently purchased Morning Light, the Transpac 52 formerly named Pegasus, from software developer Philippe Kahn.

The film, scheduled to be released in 2008, will chronicle the recruitment, training and performance of the crew through the race in 2007. None will be actors. There will be no script and no preconceived outcome.

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