A true challenge
Travelling is creating happenings to overcome.
A compelling documentary about Worlds first solo rowing expedition, from Australia to the mainland of Africa. With the Atlantic and Pacific rowing expeditions in the pocket, Ralph affronts the Indian Ocean all by himself (solo). The last ocean to achieve his Grand Slam dream.
As a compelling wave, not able to change from direction, Ralph is taking the viewer at his side into this extraordinary journey. He is recording the great variety of encounters and happenings that are to expect during this at least 130 day rowing expedition. He needs to cover more then 9000 km, heavy currents near the Australian and African continents can bring him easily of his course to reach his goal the mainland of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam.
Ralph has prepared two years for this expedition, but we begin the story when he is preparing his boat in the final stage. It is out of quarantine and ready to be packed with all the food and last supplies. The stress is visible on his face. There is this hunger to get started, to get to this situation, although is can be life threatening he feels so at home. All alone, into this great blue ocean, only the sounds of whales and waves to accompany him.
Ocean rowing is rare, but solo rowing expeditions are even more rare. Undertaking an expedition as this takes a lot of willpower, and force. You need to be a bit crazy. Rowing all alone and unsupported is asking a lot of mental and physical effort. Ralph starts as a healthy build, sportsman, strong muscles and freshly shaven. After a month or two we see the cost of his journey. He lost several teeth, long beard, and he lost too much weight due to the tremendous sport effort he accomplishes every day. He looks bewildered, he has another look in his eyes. Ralph is in the stage of survival, more animal then human. This slowly shifting personality is unique transition of a man that follow his dreams and is even prepared to risk his life for it.
Rowing solo has big implications: that means when Ralph sleeps, he can be run over by a 200 meters long container ship. His boat is so small that these giant tankers won’t even notice. As this is his third ocean rowing expedition, Ralph knows what to expect, the physical pains after sitting hours on his bum, to make the requested miles for the day. The mental conditions of being alone for such a long time clearly have an impact on his behaviour. Hard is also his new sleep – work rhythm. As he is rowing solo, Ralph rhythm is rowing for two hours, sleeping two hours. It takes him weeks to get used to this routine. Overcoming setbacks, after realising that after 2 weeks of rowing he hasn’t come any further, but was thrown 100 km backwards. This is psychological devastating.
Also technical obstacles are a hurdle to get to the finish on the African continent. A rowing boat is a very small space, and every corner or shelf is used. The boat is full with appliances, that are all essential, water maker, GPS, maps, solar panels. When one of these technical appliances is not working correctly, this isn’t just annoying; this directly becomes life threatening in Ralph’s case. Let alone also to film the whole expedition, as he was all alone on the vast waters.