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Meltdown

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Adventure annals are rife with mystery. Take George Mallory and Andrew Irving’s 1924 Mount Everest attempt; the two vanished, their fate murky until their mummified corpses were recently found. In sailing, what happened to Donald Crowhurst (and why) during the 1968–69 Golden Globe Race, the first nonstop solo-circumnavigation race, is equally ambiguous. His boat, Teignmouth Electron, was found abandoned and adrift, with two logbooks on board—a master log showing Crowhurst’s actual route through the South Atlantic, and a fictitious log of his “circumnavigation” that indicated he had lied about his positions for months.

Deep Water, a film produced by John Smithson, retells this tale with archival footage of Crowhurst and Teignmouth Electron and interviews with Crowhurst’s widow, his contemporaries, and his sponsors. Along the way, Deep Water illustrates the unbridled challenge of early solo ocean racing, where—as was the case with early Himalayan mountaineering—brutal reality separated the victors from the dark horses.

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