In the spring of 2011 Harry Whelan and Jeff Allen picked up the gauntlet to break a 21-year-old record time in circumnavigating Ireland by sea kayak. They did… by 8 full days. The film, Into The Wind sets out to tell the tale. This is not a video deep with background or grand ideals, it does not set out to teach you or present an Irish travelogue. (Although it does offer its share of scenic landscapes.) Into The Wind feels simply like a raw journal of 2 mens experiences as they set out to break a record. It’s strengths are certainly in the unvarnished moments, on water captures, the sounds of the wind, interviews along the way and so forth. I think the best moments come when the music (Although well-chosen.) is turned off and we are carried along by the adventure itself.
Harry & Jeff’s record success seems almost shocking when you look at the weather and other pit falls they met along the way. Without the DVD it would be hard to believe. In retrospect you have to wonder what they could have done had the gods been even a bit more kind. But there lies the mystique. In the video, you see the problems come up; the wind, theft, swollen wrists, etc., but in keeping with the mindset of the paddlers, the viewer is quickly taken back to the water and another day of knocking down miles until, suddenly, the task is done. Then, as it is in real life, the victory passes in a flash of exhaustion and a momentary blur of fanfare. The stills and outtakes roll.. Except, life doesn’t end with the victory celebration of course.
Near the end, past the stills, there is a short interview with Jeff Allen about the return home that is probably one of the most honest and thought-provoking I’ve seen on a kayaking DVD. What happens when it’s over? How do we deal with the return to so-called normality? Among paddlers it’s something we’ve all talked about, but rarely do we spend much time on it. We may not all feel exactly as Jeff does, but I do feel we all relate at different levels. Personally I give him the “Brass Orbs” award for sharing these thoughts without gloss.
Here’s the Trailer
Who should buy this DVD? Are you a sea kayaking adventurer or adventurer wanna-be? Do you dream of weeks on the open sea? Then this is certainly a DVD for your collection. Into The Wind is not so much an instructive video for aspiring kayak adventurers as it is a gut-check.
* Thank you to Romany Productions for providing a Review Copy of this DVD.