He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
In 1969, the Argonaut carried the youngest crew in history to victory in the Transpacific Yacht Race. In next year's race, Disney aims to change history. Through the Morning Light Project and Pacific High Productions, Disney has a threefold mission: 1) assemble the youngest, most diverse team the race has ever seen; 2) train them to race a TP-52 (last year it raced as Pegasus, this year it's likely to be called Morning Light), and 3) film the whole shebang, then throw it up on the old silver (or even IMAX) screen. The object: to bring TransPac to the world.
Cool, right? So they took 538 applicants from around the world, then pared them down to 30. After trials in August, they'll take the final 15 and put them on the boat. My little brother (chronologically speaking—physically, he's actually much bigger than me) Graham Brant-Zawadzki just so happens to be among this final 30, but I figured the story wouldn't really pop unless he made the final 15. Graham's a sophomore at Stanford University studying human biology, but he likes himself some water sports on the side.
Apparently Jeff Miller at the Register disagrees with me. He thinks it's hot now; in fact, he took it upon himself to interview both my brother and another local finalist, Robert (Max) Moosmann, earlier this week. I don't know if he likes that there's two locals in the finals or what, but I'll be god-damned if I let the Reg beat me to a scoop on my own little brother. So here.
OC Weekly: So when did you first start seriously sailing? Graham: Two years ago; my sophomore year at school.
Wait, you just finished your junior year? Yeah.
Shit. I'm behind the times. Anyway, what'd you do before that? I rowed competitively in high school for five years, and one for freshman year in college as well.
How good is the Stanford Sailing Team comparitively? They're great – we're a pretty competitive team. We do well. This year our women's team took 4th at Nationals. Our men's team did well too; we finished in the top ten at team racing. It was awesome.
So what the hell made you think you could get on the Stanford Sailing Team with practically no sailing experience? All my friends on the team were really supportive about it. No one was expecting me to become a huge asset to the team or anything, but it's fun to be able to sail with great sailors like them who are so understanding and nice.
ARE you a huge asset to the team? I don't consider myself so. Hopefully I don't drag them down too much.
So with two years' practical sailing experience, what made you want to try out for the Morning Light Project? Obviously I really wanted to apply but I wasn't going to because I didn't think I had anywhere near a chance to get in, especially because of my lack of experience. But a couple of friends told me I should apply anyway; the program wasn't just about getting the best boat. They wanted to have a range.
The Project is trying to get the youngest team in TRANSPAC history. Do you think your age, at 21, will hurt your chances? I don't think it will necessarily help me, but it definitely won't hurt. If I were any older, it would have been a problem. The younger you are the better, so it's good that I'm under the necessary age to make the average.
I'm just trying to decide if I should say anything bad about Moosmann. No, don't. He's a really nice guy. It's good that he's 18 because he's got a lot of experience and he's young. For example, they could take someone who's a really good sailor and young, and that would allow them to take someone who is a good candidate but might otherwise have been too old. That way the average age still stays down.
They're taking 30 kids from around the world—do you really think they'll take two guys from Newport Beach? Thinking about it practically, probably not—which is kind of scary because Max is definitely a much more qualified sailor. I'd rather not think about it. Besides, I like to think that now I live in San Francisco instead of Newport Beach.