‘Morning Light' shines spotlight on young sailors

Published: Oct. 17, 2008 at 1:41 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 17, 2008 at 2:05 AM HST
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Mark Towill
Mark Towill
Roy E. Disney
Roy E. Disney
Leslie DeMeuse
Leslie DeMeuse

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KAKAAKO (KHNL) - Fifteen young sailors endured rough waters to survive a grueling trans-pacific voyage.  Their amazing journey was captured on film, and the documentary premiered Thursday evening at Ward Theaters in Kakaako.  For all of those involved, it was a life changing experience.

It's a 2,500-mile race across the Pacific from Long Beach to Honolulu.  These young sailors  -- all in their 20's -- went hull to hull against top sailing professionals from around the world.

"This was a life defining experience and I'm humbled and blessed to be a part of it, really," said Mark Towill, the youngest of the 15 crew members aboard the Morning Light.

And for one member of the team, the journey was extra special.  Towill is from Kahaluu, Oahu.

"It was more than just a race," he said.  "I got to sail home. The finish line was where I've grown up."

The documentary took three and a half years to make, and it continues Disney's tradition of making quality, family friendly movies.

"The main thing is it's an optimistic documentary," said Roy E. Disney, the movie's co-producer and Walt Disney's nephew.  "It's about the best in young people that we filmed and how they rose up to meet a lot of challenges."

And it's a labor of love for co-producer Leslie DeMeuse.  She started sailing as a teenager.

"I was reliving when I was sixteen and having that experience because you never forget it," said DeMeuse. "You never forget all the lessons you learned out in the ocean."

"There's so much to say about the ocean," said Towill. "How much you can learn from it, how much it's taught me, and I really owe everyone involved in this project a lot because they've helped me develop who I am."

They started as fifteen strangers; now, they're family.

"I was so overcome with so many different feelings that I was almost confused as to what to feel," said Towill. "I never felt so much. It was such a powerful, powerful moment."

And a picture perfect ending to a grueling race, and a much anticipated documentary.

"This is a movie I kind of think Walt would have liked," said Disney.

The documentary opens to the general public Friday.