Doc revisits 1969 race around the world

Deep Water

on August 24, 2007 by Ed Scheid
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Deep Water documents the astonishing events of a British sailing competition in 1969 with a focus on Donald Crowhurst, considered the mystery man of the nine entrants. After Francis Charles Chichester's celebrated solo circumnavigation of globe in 1966-67, the sea became the next frontier of challenge in Britain, and The London Times sponsored a highly publicized nonstop solo sailing race around the world.

The struggling owner of a small electronics firm and a weekend sailor, Donald Crowhurst designed his boat himself, incurring a potentially high financial risk with his investor by agreeing to buy back the boat if he dropped out. Crowhurst became a popular celebrity as he began the race, but he experienced bad luck from the start with a leaky boat and an initial sail that should have taken three days took two weeks.

Directors Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell skillfully combine archival footage with contemporary interviews for a wide examination of the race and its participants. Reminiscences from family members and ship log excerpts give personal insights into Crowhurst and his French competitor Bernard Moitessier, and comments from Crowhurst's wife and son particularly are very affecting.

There was an enormous sense of isolation on the open water. Crowhurst's problems mounted in the dangerous waters near Cape Horn on the tip of South America, where he became further delayed. Since dropping out would mean ridicule and financial ruin, Crowhurst began a strategy of deception. In an accurate analysis in the film, his enemies are both the sea and himself. Suspense builds when some stranger-than-fiction events put Crowhurst in an unexpected situation. Deep Water successfully combines the pressure of the competition with an intriguing character study of the increasingly desperate Crowhurst.
Distributor: IFC
Narrator: Tilda Swinton
Directors: Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell
Producers: Alison Morrow, Jonny Persey and John Smithson
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Not yet rated
Running time: 92 min.
Release date: August 24, 2007 NY/LA
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