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Fifteen young sailors...six months of intense training...one chance at the brass ring. This exciting true-life documentary tells the inspiring story of a group of intrepid and determined young men and women, on the cusp of adulthood, as they embark on life’s first great adventure. Racing a high-performance 52-foot sloop in the TRANSPAC, the most revered of open-ocean sailing competitions, the crew of "Morning Light" matches wits and skills in a dramatic 2300 mile showdown against top professionals. From their earliest training sessions in Hawaii conducted by world-class teachers through their test of endurance on the high seas, they form an unbreakable bond in the process of becoming a singular team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Morning Light by executive producers Roy E. Disney and Leslie DeMeuse

Unlike the young sailors we recruited from across America for our Morning Light film, I didn’t discover sailing until I was nearly 30…but I certainly fell in love with it, enough so that by now I have sailed—and raced—the equivalent of several times around the globe.

My producing partner, Leslie DeMeuse, on the other hand, started sailing small boats on gusty San Francisco Bay when she was in her teens, and eventually became a filmmaker specializing in yacht racing.

As it happened, she and I both made our first Transpacs—the biennial 2500 mile sailing race from California to Hawaii—in the mid-seventies, and the race has since become a major focus of both of our lives. Both of us have talked for years of finding a way to bring an audience along on the race, and we believe we’ve found it.

The idea was really simple. It came from our good friend Tom Pollack, who said, “Why don’t you recruit a group of young people, put them on a competitive boat, enter them in the race, and film the whole thing.”

Transpac had such an impact on both of our lives, and we were intrigued. The idea of exposing a group of young people to this metaphor for life—working together to navigate an open ocean—seemed quite powerful to us.

When we announced our program in the spring of 2006, we were deluged with applications. We brought 30 of the most qualified to Long Beach, California, that August for a week of tryouts, and wound up with 15 sailors and a ton of film to begin the editing process with. 

After Long Beach, the 15 spent the first six months of 2007 in Hawaii, training under a team of highly respected pros, several world champions and Olympic medalists among them, and on July 15, they started the long-anticipated race to Hawaii. Our cameras followed them every step—or rather, every nautical mile—of the way.

But, as Leslie and I knew from the beginning, our story was not about a boat, or a race, but about the people who sailed on it. We knew what it was to cross an ocean for the first time, to learn the many lessons the sea has to teach, and in the process to become part of a team—something more than the sum of the parts. We knew it would be a life-changing experience for every one of our crew.

We hope it will change your lives just a little bit, too. Enjoy the journey!