Messing about in boats on a big screen

December 13, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

You'd rather be sailing, as the familiar bumper sticker goes. But in the winter doldrums, a pretty good surrogate is "Race the Wind," the new film premiering tomorrow at the Maryland Science Center's big-screen IMAX theater."When you're sailing, you become a part of something so much larger," says a female voice late in the 39-minute film.

She's talking about the thrill of sailing a "land yacht" across the Nevada desert flats, but the statement applies to the movie, too.

You won't get wet. But you may find yourself ducking a wave crest, or leaning instinctively against the heel of a swift sloop trimmed hard on the wind, as the evocative film skims through the many ways people harness the wind for speed.

Well-timed for the 1992 America's Cup challenge (getting under way next month in San Diego), the movie replaces the volcano film "Ring of Fire" as the daily IMAX attraction at the Science Center. It will run through May 28. (The Rolling Stones concert film, "At the Max," continues its after-hours weekend run.)

The movie seems to have resulted from that often quoted sailor's credo (from "Wind in the Willows") that there is nothing more worthwhile than simply messing about in boats -- but in this case the large-format IMAX camera went along.

An America's Cup segment is part of the movie, predominantly some stunning footage of the last challenge in 1988.

The film opens and closes with some lyrical footage of legendary world sailor Tristan Jones at the helm of his rusty old cutter, Quiberon. His rich Welsh voice intones, "The winds: Are they a demon's curse or are they the breaths of gods?"

Jones also introduces some rare footage of a clipper ship rounding Cape Horn in 1929. Viewers are told that two young crewmen they see on deck were later washed overboard and never found.

"Race the Wind" can be faulted for paying too much attention to speed, at the expense of exploring the gentler pleasures of sailing, as enjoyed by most Chesapeake Bay sailors.

But the film still provides a vicarious way to go down to the sea in ships.

'Race the Wind'

Where: Maryland Science Center

When: Beginning Dec. 14: noon, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. weekdays, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets: $5.50-$7.50

$ Call: (410) 685-5225

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