Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

G'day to All,
A very Happy New  Year to you all!  What a year it has been.   A good year - yes.  A great year - yes.  But not a year without its pit falls and down falls.   It is dealing with these that develops and molds us into who we are.  Not meaning to get psychological on you, but I think looking back at the year in a life of most people there is always a mixed bag; some years harder than others and I know some years some of us would like to forget altogether.

In brief, my year started with picking up the pieces of my yacht management business, Sunderlands Yacht Management & Shipwrights. Dealing with luxury goods and having recently been vilified by the mainstream media following Abby's rescue out of the Indian Ocean, getting back to business as usual was very challenging.   Not to mention, the extra stress of being the sole bread-winner of a large family - you could say I was off to a disastrous start to the year.

With much uncertainty, and for one of the first times in a very long time, not having the answers to turn things around, I can only say that my faith in God grew stronger.   Some will say that faith in God is just a crutch but I would disagree - it would be more like a stretcher.   Through much prayer things started to change. 

The first of the year also found us having a very frustrating time trying to get Abby & Zac's documentaries made with several different production companies.  After much prayer, we decided to start our own production company, WorldWind Productions.  I was thrown in at the deep end not ever having produced anything in the documentary film arena to producing and directing two at the same time, which I enjoyed immensely. 

Producing  and directing Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story and Intrepid:  The Zac Sunderland Story was one thing.  You do your very best and you may think its the greatest ever, but that really doesn't matter.  It's the accuracy coupled with making it entertaining for those watching.

Both documentaries have been well received, winning various awards at the film festivals entered.  We've also enjoyed the many great emails of people letting us know how much they have enjoyed the documentaries.  This has encouraged us and we always enjoy receiving the positive feed back. If you don't have a copy yet, buy ten and give them to your friends!

What started off as a year that was difficult, quickly started to turn around.  Now as we close out 2011 we are running two companies both with bright prospects for the future. 

The latest festival news:
We have just arrived back from the San Diego Christian Film Festival where Wild Eyes:  The Abby Sunderland Story won the Director's Choice Award. We spent a boisterous few days with friends and family in San Diego.  Between screenings, workshops and a few interesting meetings at the festival, we visited friends in Coronado and Del Mar.  I'm sure Marianne will write on her parenting blog, Abundant Life, about the challenging times we had.  I will say that if we hadn't planned to arrive with a sense of humor, things would have gone a lot differently.

We lost a few friends this year due to tragic accidents.  Romario Zeri, somewhat of a fixture in Marina Del Rey, died suddenly after his motor bike collided with an eighteen wheeler whilst he was on the Love Ride, a charity event.  Steve Jobs also died after a battle with Pancreatic Cancer, a tragic disease that took my father-in-law a few years back.  WorldWind Productions helps support the Hirshburg Foundation which is the leading fundraiser for research for a cure for this deadly disease.  

Some of the less known sporting events that caught my attention, Roz Savage set the record of First Woman to Row Three Oceans after rowing across the Indian Ocean. She is a courageous women who must have arms of steal.   More recently, Jordan Romero, the youngest man to summit mount Everest at age 13 finished his quest to climb the highest peeks on all seven continents by summiting Mt Vinson in Antarctica.  A big congratulations to them both.

Ros Savage

Jordan Romero

The LA Galaxies also did an a incredible job winning the MLS Cup Final which I was able to attend with Toby, my 14 year old son, who is proving to be an up and coming soccer player himself.

This year has been a great year for me, not because of what I've achieved, more so because I realize how important it is to have a relationship with the Maker of this world and universe and to understand that without this, there really is very little or no hope.  I've also learned to understand the value of having a loving and caring wife and the privilege to be called Dad, not a long title by any means, but undoubtedly the most important title a man could ever have. 

God bless all who read.

Happy New Year for all in 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

G'day and Merry Christmas to all!

I have been busy like the rest of you and I made an announcement that I had some exciting news to share a while back.  I don't mean to drag this out but it will have to happen early in the New Year.  Good news is that I've just finished what that is.  Stay tuned for more info!

You can imagine the excitement at our house.  With all the wonderful little kids, they can hardly contain themselves with all the excitement of Christmas morning.  Lydia, Katherine and Ben are performing in a Christmas play with our church. They have performed twice already and have one performance left. The 'big one' at the Civic Arts Plaza on Thousand Oaks Blvd. 

All are welcome to come to the performance which begins at 4.00pm tonight. This will be a great time.  Many people have worked very hard in putting this together.  Merry Christmas to all and thank you for the cards and presents, thoughts and support.

Also, everyone here wnats to send out a huge congratulations to Jordan Romero who has recently completed the last of the highest summits in the world becoming the youngest climber ever to do so!  Check it out!  Our hearts and prayers are with you Jordan!!

PS. Take it easy on the egg nog.
PPS.  Wise men still seek Him.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

TAR Finale Weekend - NYC

G'day to all,
It was a busy week leading up to the weekend where we all got together for the finale party for TAR Season 19.  What an incredible, well-organized time of celebrating.  A big thank you to Cindy Chiang and Justin Young from the season for their organization of the events in NYC and a big congratulations to the three finalists and the winners Cindy Chiang and Ernie Halvorsen for a job well done.  

Also, not to forget the hard work of Television Without Pity  for a great party after the final showing.  Megan and Miss Dona did an incredible job.  It was much fun for all who attended.  NYC was fun and a hive of activity - a little too busy for me, but I made the most of it.  The fans made it a great event and to see our fellow racers again was special.  Some we hadn't seen since riding elephants through a rain forest in Thailand.  

Unfortunately, Zac and a few of the other racers (Andy, Tommy, Bill and Cathy, Ethan and Jenna) were unable to make it due to traveling and business plans.  They were missed by all.  Your TAR teammates become like a family, a bond forms between you that unites us because of the the rare experience of traveling to those obscure places around the world where we uncover, undo, eat or solve some of the most bizarre challenges one can imagine. 

Of course, it was great to talk about some of the challenges and relive them in a more relaxed environment. Yes, our celebrations took us to a couple of night clubs and I found myself with a couple of moves that I didn't know that I had.  It was much fun. 

After a couple of days of reuniting with our fellow racers, celebrating and watching the finale, it was time to say our good byes and leave those frigid temperatures of NY and fly back to LA. 

Oh yes, the greatest part about going away is coming home to my wonderful family.


PS  No photos of our weekend in NYC but will get those posted as soon as they are received.

Monday, December 5, 2011

TAR Finale Warm Up

Jeremy and Sandy

What a great time in San Fransisco!  Though it was short trip it was a lot of fun.   Jeremy and Sandy, my fellow racers from this season of the Amazing Race had a good turn out of there friends and race enthusiasts at their viewing party on Sunday night.  It was nice to drop in and surprise them both.  It was a great warm up to get us ready to continue the festivities for the conclusion of TAR Season 19 in New York City this weekend. 

I think everyone was surprised and shocked to see our good friends Andy & Tommy get eliminated.  They had a good race and were favored to win by many. I was also surprised to see that Jeremy & Sandy won that leg of the race.  It made my surprise visit all the more worthwhile to be able to congratulate them on a job well done.

The Amazing Race - It's Good But Hard.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend Happenings

I wanted to take the opportunity to write a quick note about the weather experienced Wednesday evening.  Yes, there was a pretty good blow in Marina Del Rey. I was surprised how little wind we had in Thousand  Oaks.  I heard that there were strong winds in Pasadena. My mother-in-law lives in Pasadena and the following day she called letting us know just how bad it was. Toby, Ben and myself went out to Grandma's to help put her yard and blown down fence panels back together. 

I was surprised at the extent of the damage, not only to her house but to many others in the area.  These are the photos I took. 

The tree that is blown down landed between the two houses.  This could have been a different story - someone was praying.

I was shocked  to learn that just a few miles away at the Henninger Flats a gust of 167mph was recorded!  Let's hope we don't get nailed by another blow like this for a long time.  

Another spontaneous paint job 

After Toby's gallant effort at Grandma's house, we only just made it back to Thousand Oaks in time for his uniform fitting for the all star soccer team and then straight out for a camping trip with the Boy Scouts in Ojai.  Rather them than me - it must  have been below freezing in Ojai as it was 37 here in Thousand Oaks. 

Toby's trip gave me the opportunity to bless him by painting out one of the rooms that was being used for storage, now Toby's new room . Why do these jobs always seem to take twice as long as the time I allocate for them?   Fortunately, we managed to keep my little helpers out of the paint tray this time. 

On top of this we had a little celebration as my beautiful daughter, Jessie, turned 13 yesterday. So after the painting and celebrating we had a little father and daughter time and I took her to see Hugo which was a treat for me as well as her.  

It would have been much easier to just have a nice evening in, but I'm glad that I made the time to take Jessie to the movies.  I realize that these children grow up very quickly and as a father it is important to come along side them, love them and speak into their lives so they can come to us as parents when times get a little tough having the confidence that we will listen to them and not be too busy.

Hugo was a great movie - one I would recommend and encourage folks to go and see.  Directed by Martin Scorsese, who did a great job of keeping this tale entertaining and engaging. This is based on the book The Invention Of Hugo Carbret by Brian Selznick which Jessie had recently read.  She thought that the book was as good as the movie.   The screen play written by John Logan was well done.

Now I will be heading out to San Fransisco to surprise a couple of friends from the Amazing Race who are putting together a party later tonight after the show airs at 8pm.  I would not ordinarily afford this luxury, but  I have a couple of business meetings in SF Monday.   This way I  get to surprise a couple of friends, have a good time and a do a little business. 

Now I know all of you will be a little surprised at tonight's outcome on the Amazing Race as this season draws to a conclusion.   Follow along on CBS at 8:00 pm.

The Amazing Race - It's Hard But Good!



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blown Away

G'day to all,

Never a dull moment! What a Wednesday for those of us that weren't blown away. I had little time to prepare for a talk at Ventura Missionary Christian School but fortunately it went down quite well. The theme was to be motivational and inspirational. I like to have an interactive audience which helps those with a narrow attention span from falling asleep or being distracting to others.

One of the interesting times of participating is when I have 2 volunteers from the audience come up on the stage where I have two offshore survival suits waiting for them and we have a little competition. After placing them in a scenario of a life and death situation they then race to put the rather cumbersome survival suits on.

I must say I am quite surprised how quickly they do this. The winner wins a DVD documentary. It's a lot of fun and the kids really enjoy it. I think we all had a great time.

Then a swift drive from Ventura to Marina Del Rey for Peter Greenburg's (from CBS Travel news) annual holiday party aboard his yacht that I have the pleasure of managing and skippering.

Hanging out with Peter Greenberg
Well, if you were in the area at all you would understand why we concurred that due to the wind warning it would be best to have the party dock side. LAX clocked 40 knots. I had to leave the party to tend to a couple of other yachts and make sure they were secure as well.

All this was topped off by a five mile run in the morning - a good full day. Oh, we are told that the wind will be back tonight.