Deep Water (PG)

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The Independent Culture

This absorbing and disturbing documentary is something of an antidote to that very British infatuation with the gentleman amateur. For round-the-world boat racer Donald Crowhurst, having courage beyond sense proved extremely dangerous.

Inspired by Chichester's single-handed circumnavigation in 1967, The Sunday Times launched a new challenge, a non-stop race. Crowhurst, a 36-year-old father of four with a failing electronics business, saw this as an opportunity to raise cash and his self-esteem. He was, however, no more than a weekend sailor.

The fact that the race was a huge media event means there is a wealth of news footage with which to reconstruct the build-up to the event, while tapes and film that Crowhurst himself recorded in his new-fangled, but ultimately misfiring, trimaran help to piece together the drama at sea. What befell Crowhurst is hard to believe, but a clue as to the enormity of the challenge he faced is voiced by the eventual winner, Robin Knox-Johnson: "We didn't know if a boat could do it. There were considerable doubts if a human could do it."

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