I usually unwind in the evening with a documentary. One night, I watched Deep Water. It is a documentary about the catastrophic Sunday Times Golden Globe Race held in 1968-1969. It was a nonstop, round the world yacht race with the stipulation that it must be done singlehandedly.
I never heard of the race myself. I watch lots of man vs. nature or man vs. himself documentaries. I find them either compelling or utterly ridiculous; usually enjoyable. This particular doc about the race was titillating and shocking. These men had to race in a time without GPS and had to either build or choose their boats then stock it up for this solo voyage.
Most participants were experienced sailors but there was a “no experience necessary” aspect to the race, literally anyone who raised the money to enter could do it! That’s where Donald Crowhurst comes in. He was an amateur sailor with high hopes of winning the prize.
Spoiler alert: Donald doesn’t win. In fact, he goes insane and lies about his coordinates which is pretty hard to falsify then he commits suicide. I admit I was watching this documentary super late at night and I woke up to find out his ultimate demise. It made me sob. I am not kidding. I legit cried my heart out for this man. I don’t know if it’s the visual storytelling, his life/death, or a combination of both that went deep for me.
The idea of having all these odds against you but the dream is there. You want to try your damn hardest and you lose your way. You make mistakes, huge mistakes. He had a family he wanted to win the prize for because he was in quite some money trouble. He had support from a nation, his family, and then when it turned out that he failed quite miserable… He was fucking forgotten and everyone who wasn’t his family didn’t give two shits about him anymore.
Thankfully, the winner of the competition donated the money to Crowhurst’s family. It was just a hugely tragic adventure. There’s more recognition of Crowhurst now and appreciation for his attempts at such a large task. His family according to the documentary still view him in a positive life. He dreamed, he tried, yes he failed but there is some beauty in it, I feel.