In the spring of 2011 Harry Whelan and Jeff Allen picked up the gauntlet to break a 21 year old record.
Their 1000 mile journey would push them beyond their limits of endurance as they battled their way around Ireland’s remote and wind ravaged coastline.
Many sea kayaker will be familiar with Jeff Allen and Harry Whelan’s epic and record breaking trip around Ireland. Setting off from Admore, the duo set their sites on beating the 20 year old record for the circumnavigation of 33 days. Amazingly, Harry and Jeff managed to achieve their goal by a significant margin of 8 days setting the new record of 25 days utilising the ‘alpine style’ approach to expedition paddling that Jeff has become renown for.
The Into The Wind DVD charts the physical, emotional and meterological highs and lows of the trip and provides the viewer with a glimpse of what Jeff and Harry went through in order to achieve this impressive feat.
Videographer Vaughn Roberts followed then paddlers around Ireland shooting both on and off the water material which he has combined with footage shot by Jeff and Harry using small bullet cameras. This is interspersed with segments of very 1on 1 interviews conducted immediately after the paddlers completed the journey to provide a concise 52 minute chronicle of the trip.
The choice of title for the Into The Wind DVD is incredibly apt as sea kayakers and the wind share a complex love/hate relationship, a reality that is brought home to Jeff and Harry in huge measures. Vaughn Roberts has played on this fact quite brilliantly by overlaying the start of each section of the DVD with text messages between the expedition paddlers and expedition wether guru, Karel Vissel. These lower thirds provide an brief glimpse into not only the conditions that the duo endured but also the knife edge on which the success of the planned trip was placed.
This is never more evident than the series of texts that provided the paddlers with a brief weather window in which they could cross *** bay – a crux point of the route in terms of achieving their 25 day goal. Without this detailed information the pair would have endured a significant storm bound period which may have jepordised the whole trip.
Stylistically, Vaughn Roberts has excellent use of depth of field in a lot of the material he has shot. There is some wonderful footage of the locations, conditions and shore based shots of the paddler both on and off the water. He has not been afraid to include footage that suffers slightly from stability or brightness in favour of the fly on the wall insight that it provides whether this is material shot by the paddlers or in their seemingly frequent pub based route planning sessions. The footage of Jeff and Harry huddled together in open water during a hail and thunderstorm speaks volumes. Throughout the Into The Wind DVD Vaughn has made of use of modern, celtic influenced music. Whilst this DVD has scenes that could have been set to ‘action’ music the footage speaks for itself and does not to be ‘enhanced’.
An expedition film has the potential to become somewhat repetitive by it’s linear nature however a combination of interspersing the DVD with sections of insightful interviews, the various weather texts and nice use of a map charting progress ensures that the viewer is kept engaged throughout the DVD. If anything, I was left wanting to see, hear and learn more.
The Into the Wind DVD is a superb record of what Jeff Allen and Harry Whelan achieved and whilst it portrays a level of suffering and hardship the average sea kayaker is unlikely to be prepared to undergo in their own trips, it is most certainly makes for inspiring viewing. There are some expedition videos and DVD’s that, to an extent, are ‘watch once’ films however I sense that ‘Into The Wind’ is once I will come back to repeatedly.
Into The Wind DVD Trailer
Romany productions – Website for ‘Into The Wind DVD’ Filmmaker.