Youth makes a run for it
True to its name, Morning Light crossed the Transpacific Yacht Race's Diamond Head finish line just about sunrise on Thursday.
Shortly after, as the sleek Transpac 52 sloop backed into its slip at the Waikiki Yacht Club's E-Dock, the dozens of folks greeting its crew witnessed a remarkable event. There, for the first time in memory, a boat that was neither first to finish nor first on handicapped time was being filmed by cameras from almost every conceivable angle.
There were cameras on board, there were cameras on the dock, there were cameras on booms, there were cameras on shore, and there were even cameras in low-flying helicopters.
No one should have been surprised, though, because, as a sign clearly warned, "Notice -- Filming today." And as we have known for months, this boat and its crew were special no matter how they finished in the race.
If you somehow missed the story, Morning Light is more than a boat's name. It is also the name film producer Roy E. Disney's Pacific High Productions gave to its latest feature film project.
It began last year with an objective to create a documentary film that would record the recruitment, training, and performance of "the youngest crew ever to sail in Transpac." There was to be no preconceived outcome or script.
After a nationwide search found 538 potential crewmembers that would be no younger than 18 by the start of the race, 15 finalists were chosen to make a crew of 12 and three alternates.
Those finalists included sailors from 11 different states -- even one from Australia -- and locally, Kaneohe's Mark Towill, a Punahou School senior.
Once the final crew list was set, the training began off the coast of California. Sometime later the boat and its crew were brought to train in Hawaii's famous tradewinds. The crew even took some time off to sail aboard the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Hokulea and to help the WYC in a litter cleanup of the Ala Wai Harbor.
So now that Morning Light and its young crew have safely completed Transpac's 2,225-nautical mile course and their voyage has been documented as no other before, I imagine there will be the mixed emotions the conclusion of such a project can bring.
Somehow the joy and excitement of finishing is always tempered by some sense of disappointment that it's all over. It is, I'm sure, what has brought sailors like Disney back to Transpac year after year.
Crossing the finish line was the culmination of many months of training and team building for the Morning Light's crew, and although the film's director may have said, "That's a wrap," it won't be surprising if these sailors discover a bond that will last a lifetime.
They didn't win the race -- and the mostly teenaged crew aboard Dan Doyle's On the Edge of Destiny eclipsed their title for the youngest crew -- but their experiences are surely to be remembered -- and envied.