For <i>Morning Light</i> Racers, Cruising Was Key

Family cruises supplied valuable lessons for the young stars of Disney's new Morning Light film. "At Sea" from our October 30, 2008, CW Reckonings

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Courtesy Disney

Morning Light sailors Kit Will, Jesse Fielding, Robbie Kane, and Charlie Enright have extensive racing resumes, but they say cruising has something to teach them as well. The four were selected from 538 applicants for Roy Disney's Morning Light Transpac program. Disney's goal was to give 15 young sailors the all-expense-paid chance to become the youngest crew to complete the 2,225-mile race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. None of them had had any prior experience with offshore racing, but they cited the time they had spent cruising as helping them prepare for the program.

A video crew captured the entire program, including the race, for the new Disney film Morning Light. CW caught up with these four crewmembers as they were promoting the film at a sneak peek in Newport, Rhode Island, and we asked them how they thought cruising helped them throughout the race.

For Kit Will, cruising helped teach some of the skills that he would need aboard Morning Light.

"One of my most memorable cruises was with my family," says Kit. "We were coming into Damariscotta, Maine, in fog in the middle of the night. You just don't see that kind of situation in dinghies, where you still have to sail but you can't see. I think those type of experiences cruising were great. I learned to live on a boat and learned big-boat skills that helped me out with the Morning Light program."

"Living on a boat is something you have to get used to," said Jesse Fielding. "I remember cruising around Casco Bay in Maine as a kid, and nothing gets a crew closer than freezing temperatures and 25-knot winds in a Maine November."

Jesse also cites his cruising experiences as helping him learn the big-boat skills he would need for the Transpac. "During that cruise we had a cleat on the vang break," he says. "That was my first real underway repair, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun, but it was good practice."

Though he doesn't have much cruising experience, Robbie Kane has spent some time doing boat deliveries.

"I think deliveries are a lot like cruising," he says. "When you spend all your time racing, you can lose focus on the fun of just sailing. It's great when you can enjoy the trip, not worry about your speed, and sit to leeward if you want."

"Every boat has something to teach you," says Charlie Enright. "Even though I think we're all racers first, we try to get out and do lots of different kinds of sailing. We all were mostly dinghy sailors, but offshore racing and cruising help make you a more rounded, better sailor. The best sailors learn it all, and we're all striving to continuously get better."

Morning Light opened in select theaters on October 17th. You can learn more about the program at www.disney.com, or enter the Morning Light Critics Contest at our sister site, SailingWorld.com.