Thursday, April 15, 2010

MADSTREAK - 2007 Mini Transat

The ‘Morning Light' film had made headlines since the call for applications was made in the spring of 2006, and the plan was hatched to document a team of young sailors in their quest to compete in the Los Angeles to Hawaii 2007 Transpac Race. But the release of the movie in the fall of 2008 was greeted with only a polite clap. For the sailing enthusiast, it proved to be sufficiently entertaining while documenting the adventure, but fell short of providing any riveting intrigue or drama, and simply had far too large a cast of people to connect with.

During this same time, another race was being professionally documented, and this movie has succeeded in checking off all the required boxes. The 2007 Mini Transat drew 89 singlehanders to the start line in France to race their 6.5 meter boats on the 4200-mile route to Brazil. One of them was American Clay Burkhalter, and it is his story of building his boat and competing in the race that is the basis for the movie, ‘Madstreak’.

The movie quickly sets the tone, establishing the drama of the adventure, and creating the vital interest needed for me to stay seated. Clay is a supreme story teller, and his commentary is laced with interviews from better known individuals that include Jonathan McKee, who had done the race in 2003, and uncle Rod Johnstone (of J/Boats fame), who had helped to design and prepare Clay’s boat Acadia. A narrative by professional sailor Paul Cayard continues through the film to provide additional credibility to Clay’s challenges.

If you had seen the movie Cast Away, actor Tom Hanks spent much of the movie indefinitely marooned on a desert island, with only volleyball ‘Wilson’ as his company. What Hanks shared with Wilson, Clay shares with his onboard cameras. I found myself gaining an intimate relationship with Clay, and experiencing with him the huge squalls and other dangerous mid ocean encounters. Quite clearly I found myself cheering for him.

Where Morning Light struggled to gain interest among non-sailing audience, I believe Madstreak would succeed. It allowed me to bond with the characters, and it focused on their adventure without getting lost in the technology of the sport. This is not a sailing film just for sailors; I could easily imagine this being shown on cable television. Very watchable indeed! - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt editor

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