New Mexico Tech Student is on Sailing Crew for Adventure Film, Aug. 14, 2006

by George Zamora

Note: A newspaper article on the movie Morning Light, which will feature Tech student Kate Theisen is available from Mountain Mail.

SOCORRO, N.M., Aug. 14, 2006 – A New Mexico Tech undergraduate has been selected as one of 15 crew members that will make up a world-class yacht-racing team for Roy E. Disney’s upcoming “Morning Light” film project.

Kate Theisen, a junior majoring in astrophysics at the land-locked research university in Socorro, proved her sailing expertise and high-seas mettle when she competed last week in selection trials in Long Beach, Calif. for a coveted position as a crew member of the Morning Light, a racing yacht purchased by Disney to compete in next year’s 44th staging of the Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii.

“Morning Light,” which is also the working title of the anticipated feature-length documentary film, will chronicle the recruitment, training, and performance of the youngest 15-member crew ever to sail the Transpacific Yacht Race.

At race time, the average age of the 15 selected will be slightly more than 21 years, a full year under the record. High-definition cameras will continue to record their yacht-racing experiences, as they did this past week, for the documentary’s scheduled release in 2008.

None of the participating crew members selected to star in the film are actors; and, there is no script for the real-life adventure, nor is there a preconceived outcome of what many sailing enthusiasts, including Disney, consider to be the world’s most dynamic grand-prix-class sailing event.

“If we do our job right, I don’t care as much whether they win or lose as how they come together as a group and wind up as a team in the end,” Disney said. “However, how they do is how they do. . . . But, we’re giving them the equipment to win.”

Prior to attending New Mexico Tech, Theisen’s sailboat racing roots harked back to living with her parents on a boat in various East Coast ports.

Theisen said she also was inspired at an early age by another sailboat-racing movie, and she hopes “Morning Light” will do the same for others.

“I saw the movie ‘Wind’ ages ago, and I’ve always wanted to race,” she said. “In the meanwhile, I’ve done small boat racing, and I grew up on a sailboat.”

The New Mexico Tech undergraduate also is one of only two young women chosen for the history making crew of the Morning Light — a group selected from the 30 finalists (out of 538 applicants from throughout the world) who were invited to try out for the team during last week’s selections trials.