Deep Water

Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts

Starring: Donald Crowhurst, Clare Crowhurst, Simon Crowhurst, Santiago Franchessi
Directors: Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell

DEEP WATER is a harrowing documentary about the physical and mental challenges, and consequences, of lone sailing and flawed ambition, based on the true story of Brit Donald Crowhurst. Interviews with his family and friends are interspersed with archive footage to give a portrait of an imaginative, determined, but ultimately human, man.

The Sunday Times launched the first non-stop, single-handed round-the-world sailing race in 1968, at a time when sailing was a much admired adventure and sailors were Boy’s Own heroes. Francis Chichester had been knighted and greeted like a hero when he had returned triumphant from his lone round the world trip just a year before, stopping only once for repairs in Australia.

Donald Crowhurst wanted some of this; he wanted his abilities recognised and he wanted a cure for his worsening financial situation. With a £5,000 prize for the fastest circumnavigation, with a wife and four young children, it seemed a great solution – and a huge gamble. To secure sponsorship for the trimaran boat on which he would live for months on end, he was forced into a deal with the devil – to agree to pay back the cost of the boat if he did not complete the race. Failure would mean financial ruin.

The odds were stacked up even before he left. But his family were confident in Donald’s inventive abilities. His marine navigation company was not a huge success and Donald felt his skills were not being made use of. He needed a challenge. And that was what he got.

For in an unpredictable sequence of events, Donald’s situation and his state of mind became increasingly precarious.

A gruelling, but very worthy, documentary in important lessons from one who was put, and indeed lent himself to, the ultimate test.

5 out of 6 stars

Share