July 2006

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Feature Film Will Tell Tale of Youngest Transpac Crew

LOS ANGELES ó Morning Light, a real-life adventure feature film recorded as it happens, whatever happens, will be part of next year's 44th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii in a project led by race veteran Roy E. Disney.

Based on the premise of "the youngest crew ever to sail Transpac," the film will chronicle the recruitment, training and performance of sailors as young as 18 through the next race in July of 2007. On their own, they will sail a Transpac 52 called Morning Light ó the working title of the film. None will be actors. There will be no script and no preconceived outcome.

Disney said, "If we do our job right, I donít care as much whether they win or lose as how they come together as a group and wind up a team in the end. However they do is how they do. But we're giving them the equipment to win."

Disney recently purchased the Transpac 52 Pegasus from software developer Philippe Kahn. The Transpac 52s Alta Vita and Rosebud, part of the world's most dynamic grand prix class with more than 30 boats in 15 countries, have rated first in the last two Transpacs on overall corrected handicap time.

Disney credited the TP 52 class executive director Tom Pollock of Newport Beach, for inspiring the project. "We always thought there must be a way to expose Transpac to the world," Disney said. "The possibilities for drama are obvious."

Executive producers are Disney's Pacific High Productions and Mike Tollin of Tollin/Robbins Productions (TRP). Leslie DeMeuse will be co-producer. She is an Emmy winner as producer of numerous sailing documentaries for television.

Olympic gold medalist sailor Robbie Haines will oversee sailing operations. The film, to be shot in High Definition theatrical quality, will be distributed by the Walt Disney Co.

Disney and DeMeuse co-produced the popular DVD Transpac: A Century Across the Pacific. As with that project, DeMeuse said, "This will develop its own story."

Haines will lead a nationwide search for a crew of 10 or 11 sailors and about three alternates. They may come from the elite college sailing programs or other venues. Applications may be made soon through the Web site PacificHighProductions.com, currently under construction.

The Transpacific Yacht Club has embraced the project. Commodore Al Garnier said, "It's a very good opportunity for Transpac to become known around the world outside of the sailing community."

Currently recognized as the youngest Transpac crew by average age are the seven sailors from the Santa Barbara Yacht Club who sailed the Cal 40 Argonaut to first

place on overall handicap time in 1969. Six, including skipper Jon Andron, 22, ranged in age from 17 to 24; the seventh crew member, navigator Jay Aranjo, was 38. Andron is now a member of the Transpac board of directors.

The Morning Light crew will probably average about 21, and they'll be on their own for the 2,225 nautical miles.

Disney said, "They'll have a lot of professional assistance before the race. We're going to get Stan Honey to come in and spend a few days with these kids teaching them how to navigate, and we'll get them all to one of the Safety at Sea seminars. They're going to go off pretty aware of what they're doing."

Honey, the navigator on Disney's record-setting Pyewacket racers, currently is charting ABN AMRO 1's winning course around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Once the crew is selected, the young sailors will undergo months of intense training on Morning Light in Hawaii.

"Those sessions in Hawaii will not just be for filming," Haines said. "We'll send them off around Molokai a couple of times." The Molokai Channel leading into the finish at Diamond Head is one of the wildest parts of the race.

The film is tentatively scheduled for release in 2008.

 

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