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Surviving the Middle: Documentary Film Premieres with Team Homecoming Tour

by Meg Reilly 16 Jun 12:27 BST
Ocean Racers team on their against-the-odds 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race © Annie-Claude Roberge

This weekend Surviving the Middle premiered, a sailing documentary following the Ocean Racers team on their against-the-odds 2018 Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Almost one year ago, the team left North America on an international racing campaign that took them on two Transatlantic Races and one intense Mediterranean loop-the-loop for a total of over 10,000 NM in just 5 short months. But the 600 NM around Sicily for the Rolex Middle Sea Race proved to be some of the hardest miles for the young team, who were all competing in this world-class race for the first time.

The team was led by circumnavigators and co-skippers Morgen Watson (Calgary, CAN, 29) and Meg Reilly (NJ, USA, 29), who have Southern Ocean stories to tell, but none that rival their tales from the Mediterranean Sea. With nearly 1000 NM from the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean to the race start in Malta, the duo double-handed their Pogo 12.50 in gale-force storms just to get the boat to the Race and back. The late-season Mediterranean was unforgiving, and continued to show her might throughout the Race.

"'The Med' earned its own nickname and we spoke of it as the living beast it was. The storms form out of nowhere and move extremely irregularly. The lightning is consuming and unavoidable, the wind brash and unpredictable," recounted Reilly. "The entire race was a fine balance between what the boat could handle, what the crew could handle, and what we were willing to risk to race."

Watson and Reilly were joined by fellow North American sailors to complete the Ocean Racers owner-operated and Under 35 race team. Among the race crew were Americans Owen McDonnell (32) and River Iannaccone (21), and Canadian sailmakers Stuart and Joy Dahlgren (30). In addition, Annie-Claude Roberge of Sekoya Productions served as an OBR to capture the team's journey and share it via photos and this moving documentary film.

Over the past two years, the team has competed in world-class yacht races and provided opportunities for fellow young sailors to join the expanding team and network. The Rolex Middle Sea Race was a lofty goal for the team; they not only made it half way around the world to the Race, but were among those who actually completed the grueling course.

"You hear horror stories from the Middle Sea Race, so we definitely knew what we were getting ourselves into. We didn't have any local knowledge to race strategically, so the strategy was full throttle and survival. The rounding at Lampedusa when we headed towards Malta was the final test, and we weren't giving up," said Watson.

Surviving the Middle film is an intense story of the team's race adventure, overcoming personal and environmental challenges to pull through together as a team. The film premiered May 2, 2019 and is hosted exclusively on Mustang Survival's website, featuring all of the gear that kept the crew dry and safe during the race. Ocean Racers will be returning to the USA late May 2019, and will spend the summer visiting local sailing clubs and communities to discuss safety at sea and share the team's feature film.

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