Sailing Hits the Big Screen

Reviews of the year's films fit for the nautically minded
Author:
Updated:
Original:
movies

This past year has been unusual in that there have been, by my count, five films released that focus on sailing and the sea. Even better, three are actually worth watching! The best two are a pair of documentaries that were created and released by independent filmmakers.

Maidentrip, directed by Jillian Schlesinger, follows Dutch teenager Laura Dekker as she successfully pursues her dream to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world. Though Laura’s voyage was controversial, as the Dutch government sought to block it, Schlesinger refuses to sensationalize the story and instead focuses on what the voyage meant to Laura. The driving force—more than the fine soundtrack and charming animated cartography—is Laura’s own voice. In it you can hear her growing up.

 Laura Dekker stars in Maidentrip, the story of her solo sailing journey around the world

Laura Dekker stars in Maidentrip, the story of her solo sailing journey around the world

The film is also very true to ocean sailing. Though it paints a somewhat impressionistic portrait of our sport, it is quite accurate and is filled with small visual details that all sailors can relate to and that also make sailing accessible and comprehensible to laypeople.

Raw Faith, meanwhile, follows a sailing dream with a different trajectory. George McKay, an office-worker with no sailing experience, is well into his middle ages when he is struck with a fervent desire to go to sea in a bizarre mock-galleon. McKay’s family rallies around him as he constructs his ticky-tacky dream ship, but fall away one by one as it becomes obvious how unseaworthy and impractical it is. McKay ultimately is left alone with his fixation and ends up with nothing, as his beloved ship sinks and is lost on its first serious passage.

Produced by Gregory Roscoe and David Berez, the film is visually arresting, as the ersatz ship lends itself to dramatically framed shots. It is also dramatically paced, as much of the story concerns McKay’s battles with the Coast Guard and local harbormasters. I watched in slack-jawed amazement and was left with a fine appreciation of our government’s inability to prevent us from doing stupid things on boats.

 Raw Faith follows George McKay, on a bizarre mission to build a mock-galleon and take it to sea despite having no prior sailing experience

Raw Faith follows George McKay, on a bizarre mission to build a mock-galleon and take it to sea despite having no prior sailing experience

The most anticipated sailing film of the past year, of course, was a major feature, All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford as an unnamed solo sailor who loses his Cal 39 in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, the film’s creators made no effort to make it at all realistic, and any sailor watching it is apt to feel insulted and annoyed.

Redford’s performance was hailed as Oscar-worthy, but all I saw was a man who looked confused and aggravated for an hour and a half. I had the exact same expression on my face the entire time I was watching him.

Another feature film I was looking forward to but was disappointed by was Kontiki, about Thor Heyerdahl’s famous raft voyage across the Pacific. Though the cinematography was great, the story was very slow and literally put me to sleep.

In the end, the one nautical feature film I enjoyed was Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. You sure won’t be nodding off during his tense, well-made portrayal of a cargo-ship hijacking off Somalia. The only problem is there are no sailboats in it! 

Related

191114

Video: 11th Hour Racing Arrives in Brazil

Team 11th Hour Racing finished in fourth place this past week among the 29 IMOCA 60s competing in the 4,335-mile doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre, France, to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Aboard were American Charlie Enright and French sailor Pascal Bidégorry, ...read more

Video--Edmond-de-Rothschild-Maxi-tri-Pitstop

Video: Edmond de Rothschild Maxi-tri Pitstop

. On Sunday, after having been first across the equator in the Brest Atlantiques race , Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier aboard the Ultime maxi-tri Maxi Edmond de Rothschild reported they’d be making a pitstop in Salvador de Bahia, in Brazil, after damaging one of their ...read more

T31A4577

Cruising the Eagle Class 53

Sailing at 19 knots in 15 knots of breeze is not an earth-shattering experience anymore. I was thinking about that on a perfect late summer day in Narragansett Bay while we were slicing along on the most technologically advanced cruising catamaran I’ve ever seen—the Eagle Class ...read more

1.-Exterior-old-port-600x

Know-how: Replacing Portlights

Years ago when my wife and I were running sailboats in the Caribbean we once had a guest who, when we're at anchor, would occasionally look out the big saloon ports at the, ahem, “scenery.” (We spent a lot of time in the French islands back then.) More recently, if this same ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. We saw this rainbow on the west coast of Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, ...read more

10-002

Ask Sail: Analog or Digital

Q: I am redoing my voltage distribution panel and can’t decide between a needle movement voltmeter or a digital illuminated voltmeter to monitor my house and starting battery voltages. Which way would be best? — J. Henshaw, Tampa FL GORDON WEST REPLIES I would say do both types ...read more

Ultime-maxi-trimaran-2048x

Video: The Power of an Ultime Tri

. If there was ever any doubt as to the speed potential for the eye-popping Ultime maxi-trimaran class, the first 24 hours of the Brest Atlantiques race have surely put such doubts to rest. The drone footage above of Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier’s Gitana Edmond de ...read more