Transpac will feature young yachtsmen
ROY E. DISNEY returned to his Hawaii home two days ago with an update on his involvement with next month's Transpacific Yacht Race. The veteran of 15 Transpac races (as a former champion and course record holder) brought his boat, Pyewacket, out of retirement to compete again. "There's no rationality to any of this," he laughed. "You need to understand it's all a very emotional deal."
This year, he's also attached to Morning Light, which will carry the youngest crew ever to race from California to Hawaii. He and co-producer Leslie DeMeuse have been making a documentary film about the youths, in their late teens and early 20s, and their preparation for the event.
"It's a true-life documentary; nobody is doing anything for the camera," said DeMeuse, stressing its difference from reality shows. "It's not contrived," she said.
"If the cameras weren't along, they'd be happy as hell," Disney added.
When asked if the film, scheduled for a Spring 2008 theater release, would appeal to those who don't understand sailing, Disney nodded. "If the kids are interesting to the audiences ... then sure. It's not a story about a race or a sailboat. It's a story about 15 kids coming together, learning how to be a team and accomplishing something that is more than the sum of the parts."
Disney is pleased with the progress of the crew, selected for their character and ability to work with people, as well as their sailing skills.
"They're terrific," he said. In the recent Hoag race in Newport Beach, Morning Light beat the fleet, except for a few older vessels with generous handicaps. "People kept coming up to us and saying, 'They look more like pros than anybody else out there,' " said Disney, who believes Morning Light can be competitive in the 77-boat Transpac.
To capture the race's essence, three cameras will remain in fixed positions on the boat, and one shooter will roam day and night. There's also a complex sound system, and a few wireless microphones also will rotate through the crew.
A coffee table book called "What Does the Sea Teach You?" is scheduled for release with the movie. A week on the sea where young people must fend for themselves "is a life-altering experience, especially at that age," said DeMeuse. "There's a lot of self-confidence built."
"Clean Water, Common Ground" recently won two Telly Awards for its examination of Hawaii's water-quality issues. The made-for-TV documentary places responsibility for clean water on each individual. More than 13,000 entries in all 50 states and five continents competed.
The next step for executive producer Daniel S. Janik -- a retired physician, former research associate with NASA and water-quality expert -- is the film festival circuit. Hawaii residents can see it at The Movie Museum in Kaimuki at 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. today and Saturday. Reserve at 735-8771. "Everyone is who they are; there are no actors in this film," said Janik, who worked with Mary "Tuti" Baker. They discuss "how they see this problem and how it might be approached."