The Weekend Sailor

The secret of the International Ocean Film Tour?

Precision editing and appealing to the film producers’ survival instinct.

“Every filmmaker thinks their film should be like “The Thornburgs,” says adventure film promoter Henry Lystad, “a three-week mini-series that runs every night on TV.” Lystad, who for four years ran the MountainFilm Festival, is now in charge of the U.S. debut of the International Ocean Film Tour, which shows at our Greenville shop Nov. 15, Winston-Salem on Nov. 16, and Chapel Hill on Nov. 17.

There are seven films in this year’s Tour, ranging from pure adrenal adventure to those with a pointed message of conservation. In their original form, the seven films total 346 minutes, or nearly 6 hours; for the Tour, they’ve been trimmed to less than 2 hours. Engaging as most adventure films tend to be, few of us could stay in our seats for 6 hours.

“This lets the filmmakers reach a wider audience,” says Lystad. The tour version can be used to tease and promote the full production, getting it into venues such as iTunes and popular distributions channels such as Netflix, where the filmmakers can make more money from their efforts.


The International Ocean Film Tour makes its way to the U.S. after three years in Europe. It’s not that the U.S. has been slow to embrace adventure films: Warren Miller’s annual ski epics have been packing houses for more than 60 years, and touring film festivals — Banff, Radical Reels, Reel Rock — are solid crowd pleasers as well. Vast as the oceans are, though — they cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface — documentaries on the topic have yet to proliferate.

“There’s really no one doing this,” Lystad said recently from his home in Telluride, Colo.

The Tour was born of a desire to fill that void, says Lystad, who hosts each showing. “We were also interested in less adventure, more conservation and storytelling.”

The Legacy

Not that the International Ocean Film Tour, Vol. 4, is devoid of adventure. “Chapter One,” a kitesurfing history lesson, was produced in association with Red Bull Media House, and “The Accord” looks at the wacky world of surfing the North Atlantic in Iceland.

But even where there is epic adventure, there’s more an emphasis on storytelling. “The Weekend Sailor” revisits the 1973 running of the Whitebread Round The World Yacht Race, which featured some of the best and well-known sailing teams of the time — and an offbeat bunch led by 50-year-old Mexican sailor Ramón Carlín, the “weekend sailor.”

Johanna Under The Ice

“The sleeper film of the tour is ‘Weekend Sailor,’” says Lysadt. “That’s the runaway hit of the two hours.”

Another distinction between his “tour” and “festivals” is that, “We seek out the films that appear in the International Ocean Film Tour,” says Lystad. “We have a particular criteria for what we’re looking for, a dramatic arc. With festivals, submissions are made from all over.”

Two films in the tour fall squarely into the conservation category.

Chapter One

“The Legacy” examines the plight of the pacific manta ray, which was forced to abandon its home in the polluted Gulf of California 20 years ago, but has made a comeback in a Mexican archipelago after it was declared a protected area.

“A Plastic Ocean” examines the stunning plastic dumps in and at the bottom of our oceans.

Lystad cites “A Plastic Ocean” as a prime example of how his tour’s airing of a scaled back version of a film benefits the project overall. The original documentary is 96 minutes; the tour version is 20.

Generally, Lystad says, the filmmakers are pleasantly surprised by the abbreviated version.

“There was a film a couple years ago, ‘Unbranded,’ about these Texas A&M graduates that rescued some mustangs and decide to ride them 3,000 miles, from Mexico to Canada, up the spine of the Rockies. When we approached them and said we’d like to include it [in the MountainFilm Festival], they said, ‘Oh, great!’ When we said we wanted to do a 24-minute version of their 84-minute film, they said, ‘Don’t touch our film!’

The Accord

“I said, ‘Well … we already have,” Lystad says. “They looked at it and said, ‘Oh my God! This is great!

“That film wound up the No. 1 documentary on iTunes for weeks,” he adds.

By showing shortened versions and being able to show more films, Lystad says they hope the Tour has a greater impact on audiences.

“We hope to inspire better outdoorsmen, better better stewards of the wild.”

* * *

The showings

We’re showing the International Ocean Film Tour in our Greenville, Winston-Salem and Chapel Hills markets. Shows are in our shops, unless otherwise indicated. Details follow:

  • Greenville, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m. Details and register here.
  • Winston-Salem (at SECCA), Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. Details and register here.
  • Chapel Hill, Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. Details and register here.

The films

Shorebreak: The Clark Little Story

18 minutes (the original is 59 minutes)

Director: Peter King

USA, 2016

First he was a surfer, then he became a photographer. Hawaiian Clark Little has managed to turn his passion for the ocean into a career. Chasing shorebreaks is his bread and butter and capturing the perfect wave his vocation. His ability to frame the power of the water in a single shot makes his photos a love letter to the ocean.

Watch the trailer here.

The Weekend Sailor

40 minutes (59 minutes)

Director: Bernardo Arsuaga

Mexico, 2016

Seventeen yachts, seven nations, 27,000 miles at sea: 1973 marks the year a sailing trip around the world turned into a race. But when the first Whitbread Round The World Yacht Race sets off from Portsmouth, England, it’s not only the Empire’s most renowned sailing teams on the start line. There’s a dark horse in the competition: Ramón Carlín, aptly named the Weekend Sailor.

Watch the trailer here.

The Accord

19 minutes (20 minutes)

Director: RC Cone

Iceland, 2016

If you want to surf in Iceland, you need to know what you’re up against: The forces of nature reign fiercely on this northern island. The grimmest is the North Atlantic wind. In the mind of surfer Heiðar Logi Elíasson this wind is a red-bearded drunkard, unpredictable and capricious. The rough beauty of Iceland and its inhabitants’ black humour set the stage for THE ACCORD, the tale of a surfer making friends with a force of nature.

Watch the trailer here.

The Legacy

5 minutes (5 minutes)

Directors: Erick Higuera and Eréndira Valle

Mexico, 2016

It has taken only 50 years to destroy dozens of healthy and thriving marine ecosystems due to overfishing and pollution. Lots of species have vanished from their natural habitat. Almost 20 years ago the pacific manta ray was forced to leave his home in the Gulf of California but it has found a new one in a Mexican archipelago — after it was declared a protected area.

Watch the trailer here.

A Plastic Ocean

20 minutes (100 minutes)

Director: Craig Leeson

USA, 2016

It is no longer a secret that plastic waste is posing a threat to our oceans. The problem is not only the visible pollution: dirty beaches for example. Microplastics — tiny little pieces of plastic — almost invisible, are even more dangerous. It floats in our oceans and gathers in gigantic garbage patches. And from there it finds its way into the food chain. Adventurer and filmmaker Craig Leeson has tracked down plastic waste to get to the bottom of the problem.

Watch the trailer here.

Johanna Under The Ice

3 minutes (4 minutes)

Director: Ian Derry

UK, 2016

After a serious mountainbike accident Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad discovers her love for cold water and the crystal clear silence under the ice. We follow her in this constricting yet liberating world…

Watch here.

Chapter One

10 minutes (84 minutes)

Director: Bob van de Gronde


Kiteboarding has become more and more popular in recent years. Seems like a good time to take a look back to the beginnings when Windsurfing Champion Robby Naish and Big Wave legend Pete Cabrinha were among the first ones to try the new board sport.

Watch the trailer here.