let’s go with hokey

It is funny how two people can feel differently about a movie. I watched 20 minutes of it last night, and immediately turned it off. I was expecting a documentary, not a docudrama, and a lame one at that. Zero interest.

You, on the other hand, may like it…- ed.

I watched the movie ‘True Sprit’ last night. It’s on Netflix and was inspired by the young Australian sailor Jessica Watson who, in 2010 made history when she sailed solo, non-stop around the world aboard her S&S 34 named Ella’s Pink Lady. The voyage took 210 days. Jessica was just 16 years old. 

I really enjoyed the movie and highly recommend it.

I followed Jessica’s trip as I have always been inspired by the quest to become the youngest person to solo circumnavigate starting back when I was just a kid growing up in South Africa and followed the voyage of Robin Lee Graham aboard 24-foot Lapworth sloop named Dove. Robin Lee Graham was of course the California teenager who set off in the summer of 1965 returning five years later. He, of course, stopped along the way but it was still an amazing accomplishment. They made a movie out of his story and it inspired me off the couch and around the world; numerous times.

Since True Sprit’s release last week, there have been various comments online about the movie ranging from “hokey” to “downright brilliant.” I fall somewhere between the two but fully understand why some sailors might regard it as hokey. I am presuming they are hard-core sailors looking for a hard-core sailing movie. What they don’t realize is that the massive audience that Netflix has is comprised mostly of non-sailors and that’s the audience the film was written and directed toward. So what if there was a brief second when I noticed that the sheet was the wrong way around the winch.

Jessica’s success, and it was a huge success, was in her preparation and the team that she has around her. She has been quoted as saying that she would do the trip again but only on Ella’s Pink Lady and only if it was set up by the same team in the same way that it was set up for her circumnavigation. I know that it’s a truism that solo sailing is a team sport, but it really is. It takes a whole lot of people to get one solo sailor safely around the world. One of her main shore team advisors was Don McIntyre who is the founder and race organizer of the Golden Globe Race as well as the upcoming Ocean Globe Race that starts later this year.

There is no official ‘youngest record’ that’s recognized by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC). Their argument is that it would only encourage overly ambitious parents into sending younger and younger teenagers out on a voyage that’s mostly fraught with peril. As it turned out Jessica’s ‘unofficial title’ was usurped in January 2012 by Dutch teenager Laura Dekker who sailed her 40-foot ketch which she named Guppy safely around the world. Dekker was 16 years and four months old, nearly eight months younger than Jessica. They made a great movie about her voyage named Maidentrip. It’s really good. For a list of all the teenage solo circumnavigators here is the link.

I hope that you will watch the movie if only to marvel at her determination and perhaps be inspired, just as I was all those years ago by Robin Lee Graham. – Brian Hancock.