Open Ocean is a documentary directed by Nathan Siegel, which wonderfully captures the rigorous process and exhilarating experience of competing in one of the most challenging and dangerous ocean sports or races in the world – Vendée Globe.
Dubbed as the Mount Everest of the Seas, Vendée Globe is the most notable and extreme race that challenges ambitious sailors to embark on a non-stop and unassisted solo expedition around the world. It was founded in 1989 by French sailor Philippe Jeantot, and is held every four years in Les Sables-d’Olonne in the Département of Vendée, France. Sailors are forced to confront and navigate the roughest seas, temperamental weather conditions, and extreme isolation for approximately three months as they travel a total of 44,996.2 kilometers and 24, 296 miles, which is the “circumference of the Earth and the distance of reference around the world.”
The Sailor Who Harnessed the Power of the Ocean
Didac Costa is the epitome of a man who lives life on the edge and to the fullest. While he is a well-known firefighter and skilled sailor, many look up to him not solely for his achievements but for his extraordinary grit, dedication, and passion to protect the environment and make a lasting difference in society.
Costa’s affinity for racing began in 2011 when he joined the Mini Transat competition where he sailed solo from La Rochelle to Salvador de Bahia and finished in 19th place. He went on to participate in the 2014 non-stop Barcelona World Race along with his partner Aleix Gelabert using an IMOCA 60 sailing yacht in which they finished in 4th place.
In 2016, Costa took his love for ocean racing to greater heights by taking part in the world-renowned Vendée Globe competition. Despite not having enough funds for the competition as well as being held back by technical issues prior to and in the middle of the race, Costa finished in 14th place and was the second Spaniard to complete the race in almost a quarter of a century.
For him, joining the competition has little to do with his personal gain nor getting recognition, but rather to use it as a vessel to raise awareness on environmental issues as well as to conduct scientific research and educational projects to improve the overall health of our oceans. To help him carry out his mission, he partnered with Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) and used his boat as the messenger and face of their campaign “One Planet, One Ocean.”
Even in the middle of the pandemic, Costa’s dedication to his craft and the environment inspired him to join the 2020 Vendée Globe competition where he sailed for 97 days, 28.172,67 miles, and finished in 20th place. Documentary filmmaker, Nathan Siegel, exceptionally captured this impressive feat in his feature documentary Open Ocean (2021).
“I was inspired to make this film first because of the incredible nature of the challenge. The idea of someone sailing alone, non-stop around the world in the most inhospitable seas on Earth really drew me in. But what made me believe this was a story worth telling was the sometimes-absurd challenges and setbacks the project faced and the way in which the protagonist, Didac, handled them. As a close friend and super fan put it, ‘Didac is putting on a masterclass in how to live life,'” said the filmmaker.
While the documentary gave us an in-depth look into the meticulous process of preparing for the race as well as treated us to picturesque land and ocean views, what gave the film its heart and soul is depicting Costa’s journey, struggles, and the people in his life who helped him realize his dreams. His story serves as an inspiration to not allow setbacks to deter you from achieving your goals as well as to utilize your voice or talents to spark positive change in society.
It’s also worth commending how this documentary was astoundingly directed, produced, shot, and edited by Siegel. Being a one-man film crew putting together a feature-length documentary of this caliber is an accomplishment in its own right. Although for the race, Siegel had to leave it all up to Costa to capture his expedition, and in between wrangling waves and adjusting sails, both would regularly touch base to ensure that everything was properly recorded.
At a time when our environment is constantly threatened and maltreated, there couldn’t be a more perfect moment for people, like Costa and Siegel, to use their platforms either through sports, storytelling, campaigning, or education to shed light on environmental issues and how we could help protect our planet in our own simple way. Many of us take the environment for granted because we fail to recognize how vital it is in the preservation of human existence. The ocean alone is fundamentally responsible for more than half of the air we breathe, the food we eat, and for regulating the earth’s climate. By protecting the ocean, we are creating a safe and healthy environment for our society and the generations to come.
Open Ocean is currently screening in select theatres in Barcelona and other cities in Spain and will be available on streaming platforms in Spring 2022.
Check out our interview with the director, Nathan Siegel, here: https://livinglifefearless.co/2021/hype/documentary-filmmaker-nathan-siegel-talks-about-open-ocean-and-telling-untold-stories-of-the-sea/