This film is part of Free

Donald Crowhurst and the Teignmouth Electron

The first round the world yacht race attracts electronics engineer and amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst but with disastrous consequences.

News 1969 11 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


In March 1968 The Sunday Times announces the Golden Globe Race for the first non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world. Electronics engineer and amateur sailor Don Crowhurst enters along with sailors, Chay Blyth, Nigel Tetley, Bernard Moitessier, John Ridgeway, William King, Alex Carozza, Loïck Fougeron, Bill Howell and merchant navy officer, Robin Knox-Johnston. Failing to buy Chichester's Gipsy Moth IV, Crowhurst builds a trimaran, the Teignmouth Electron.

The story is immortalised by documentary Deep Water (2006) and film The Mercy (2018). Crowhurst uses a Marconi transmitter to fake positions beyond the Atlantic and writes dual logs; he never actually continues to the Southern Ocean. By the time the lead sailors are on their way home, Crowhurst is ahead in the race but he stops transmitting and makes one final entry into his diary. His yacht was found abandoned mid-Atlantic on 10th July 1969. Knox-Johnston who won the race donated his prize money to the Crowhurst family. Interviews include treasurer Mrs Arnott, Chair of Teignmouth Council Arthur Blayden, Crowhurst's publicist Rodney Hallworth and Clare Crowhurst before her husband was reported missing.