Melissa Walsh

Melissa Walsh

Detroit Sailor, Filmmaker Presents Racing's Common Goal

Great Lakes Scuttlebutt | March 2019 | Spring Issue 2019 (March/April)


Detroit Sailor and Filmmaker Presents Racing's Common Goal

By Melissa Walsh

“I’m always looking to tell a good story,” says filmmaker Carrie LeZotte from her workspace in Detroit’s New Center district.

LeZotte is cofounder of the nonprofit film production company One of Us Films. For more than 25 years, she’s devoted her film production skills mainly to educational and documentary films.

In 2010, LeZotte heard Nicolas D. Hayes speak at Detroit Yacht Club about his book, Saving Sailing, hailing sailing as an ideal family pastime. It reminded LeZotte of her childhood sailing the Great Lakes with her family during the 1970s.

“I was the child with the Frosty’s t-shirt,” she says, reminiscing about her family’s frequent trips to Lake Erie’s Put-In-Bay.

“People do other things, like football games; we only went sailing,” she says, adding that sailing give young children tasks they can do as part of the family team. They then grow into other positions as the family spends quality time together.

Acquainted with Paul Lee from racing Flying Scots at DYC, LeZotte proposed filming his family’s annual adventure competing in the Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac race abourd his 35-foot Islander, Genesis.

“I knew Paul and his family and just how he was living his life and the way that he was parenting his kids,” says LeZotte.

LeZotte joined the Genesis crew for the 2015 race, which included Lee’s sons Elliot, who was 19, and Rhys,16, and daughter, Adrianna, 14. Also among the crew, were the 16-year-old twin sons of Genesis' watch captain, Bill Brusilow.

“I wasn’t really sure what would come of it,” says LeZotte.

Her main challenge during the race that lasted 44 hours was managing her gear — three GoPro cameras, her Sony “workhorse,” and audio equipment.

LeZotte, who is the skipper of her 28-foot O’Day, “Maiden,” which she races in the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, didn’t experience this, her first Mackinac race, as a sailor would — finely tuned into wind and water conditions. Rather, she focused on capturing the harmony of the crew in their small space.

The film includes crew comments on race tactics and sailing as a life skill. Early on, Elliot speaks about his dad’s “golden rule” of sail racing: “If you haven’t won the respect of your competitors, then you’ve won nothing.”

“The only difference between sailing a boat and racing a boat,” Lee says as his crew heads to the start, “is, when you’re racing a boat, you’re just sailing it very well.”

LeZotte whittled down 30 to 40 hours of footage to a 45-minute documentary she called “The Common Goal,” which she will enter in film festivals this year.

On January 16, the Detroit Regional Yacht Association hosted a showing of the work in progress at Bayview Yacht Club.

“(The Bayview sailors) were really proud that it was the Port Huron to Mackinac race,” LeZotte says with a smile, “The non-sailors that were there, they enjoyed it too.”

Visit LeZotte on Twitter and Instagram @hotshotlezotte to learn how to support and view “The Common Goal.”