This year marks the 40th anniversary of the start of Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. The winner, Robin Knox Johnston was at sea for 313 days, becoming the first person to sail around the world single-handedly non-stop*. A documentary about the race came out last year. It didn't get widespread distribution in the US, so I bought it on Amazon. I would recommend it to anyone who loves sailing. Here is the trailer.
It has great footage of RKJ, Moitessier and many of the other competitors. Although it does a great job of telling their story, the focus of the movie however, is Donald Crowhurst; a man who risked everything to compete - his business, his home and his family. Crowhurst was in over his head. He wasn't experienced enough, his boat was not ready and he barely left England in time. (Good post at Captain's JP's blog about his trimaran)
After struggling through the Atlantic and clearly out the race, he stopped radioing in positions. Everyone gave Crowhurst up for dead. Suddenly Crowhurst's positions re-started showing him gaining distance on the others. It looked like he might finish with the fastest time. Then just as suddenly as they had re-started, his reports stopped again.
His trimaran was found floating in the Caribbean - abandoned. It was clear from his logs that Crowhurst gave up making the circumnavigation early on but could not afford not to finish. It would have ruined him and his family. He floated around the Atlantic radioing false positions showing him chasing the others round the globe. It is believed that the guilt drove him mad and he killed himself rather than face the shame.
Crowhurst is always believed to be fraud - The cunning guy who got caught cheating. The movie takes a different angle. Crowhurst's ego blurred his common sense and he cornered himself. His family and best friend recount what happened and why he drove himself into the situation. It's heartbreaking listening to his wife and son talk about him, wishing that they could have stopped him, knowing in their hearts that he was going to his death because of the situation he had put himself in.
Rather than creating lame-ass re-creations of the events, they used actual footage and other material from the race, as well as interviews with his family, RKJ and others involved in the race. Unfortunately the movie is a little long so towards the end you get a little sick of the same pictures and shots being repeated.
All that said, a great way to spend a cold winter's Saturday. You can buy it here.
* In my initial post I neglected this last point. Thanks to Tillerman for pointing it out
Despite Al Gore's best efforts, awareness of environmental issues is still too low and even among young adults it is not their biggest concern. In a recent Business Week article, the environment ranked 7th among issues that concern Gen Y'ers. If it isn't that big an issue to this generation, God help us.
The other day I noticed a simple way to get the word out - email. More to the point every email I send. And let me tell you I send a lot of them. I probably send 300-400 a week at work. Some people still print out their emails. I have no idea why anyone would want to print any of my emails but in theory, if everyone of my emails was printed out, it could be a 500 sheet pack in a week and half. Over a year, that's a lot of trees.
One of my colleagues, added this simple little tag to her email. I copied it and added to my signature, now everyone of my emails has a gentle reminder to save a tree. Many would say that this is probably the most valuable message in my emails.
Here is another one that points to Treehugger, the environmental site
Saving the Planet One Week At A Time - the Story So Far Week 4 - Adding an environmental reminder in your email signature Week 3 - Buying back the CO2 generated by my air travel Week 2 - Switching to environmentally friendly light bulbs Week 1 - Switching to recyclable toilet paper and paper towels
A great article in today's NY Times on Great Britain's identity crisis. Gordon Brown (he's the British Prime Minister for readers who aren't British or limeo-Americans like me) decided that it would be nice if Britishness was defined a bit more clearly.
Lets face it Britain is a bit vague on quite a few things. For example, there is no written constitution. Even with the help of Wikipedia, I struggled to explain how this worked to my 15-year old son.
Among Gordie's initiatives was the idea of having a motto. The French have one - Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. In the USA we have, et Pluribus Unum, so it's about time the Brits got one.
The Times (the London one) ran a competition to see who could come up with a 5 word motto for Britain. Here are some of the best ones. There are some real beauties:
Dipso fatso bingo asbo Tesco (Asbo stands for “anti-social behavior order,” a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain) Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used We Apologize for the Inconvenience Americans who missed the boat At least we’re not France My other car’s a Porche Let’s discuss it down the pub Great Britain: Mind The Gap
Over the last few weeks, I have seen a lot of old sailing photos appear on flickr and other sites. While they may not have the action and image quality of more recently taken photos, there is something charming and nostalgic about them. Here are a few of my favs.
There is so much that is amazing about Francis Joyon's accomplishment. It's hard not agree with Magnus at Rule69's assertion that it's the most incredible feat in sailing in 20 years. 54 days round the world. Christ, he made it from Brittany to the Azores in two days.
It started me thinking about the Golden Globe, the first solo round-the-world race in 1968-69. Robin
Knox-Johnson accomplished the same 28,000 miles in 313 days. The contrast could not be sharper. In 40 years, the same course is accomplished in 4-5 times faster. What does it say about the evolution of boat design?
OK, RKJ's Suhaili was probably the slowest boat to compete. Moitessier's steel machine Joshua would have overtaken RKJ if he'd stayed in the race. The trimarans could have won if the boats or their skippers hadn't fallen apart (more on that at Captain JPs' blog).