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exploring the artistry of engineless sailing

a film by HUW WAHL


PREMIERE SPRING 2024 - Watch this space for date and location!


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Taster Footage

“The sea defines us, connects us, separates us. Most of us experience only its edges.”

Philip Hoare, The Sea Inside

“Sailing engineless is like an orchestration. It's an interaction with the world,
a complex and beautiful dance.”

Stephen Hunt, Sailor


Wind, Tide & Oar explores the absorbed attention and artistry of engineless sailing, and the lives of those few exceptional seafarers prepared to go to sea whilst relying on the natural elements alone. Working with seafarers, craftspeople, sailing charities, mental health experts and sail-trainees, it concerns questions of ecology, resilience and wellbeing; looking at how the gravity and grace of sailing engineless can speak to our interaction with, and responsibility, to the natural world around us.

The film is currently in production. If you are interested in being part of the project or inquiring about it, please get in touch here.


Today almost every sailing boat has an engine which manoeuvres the vessel in tight spaces, pushes against the tide, and allows travel even when there is no wind. For most of history relying on an engine would have been unimaginable, yet in current times most mariners don't countenance leaving harbour without one. For a seafarer to unlearn their reliance on the immediacy of mechanised power they must first rely on human skill to enter into deep conversation with the natural world, tapping into and understanding what it means to flow. Sailing in this way is not simply the recall of a lost art, but a development of skills passed down through millennia; a re-making of connections to seas, rivers and stars; and a continual questioning of human beings within it all. 


To explore this state of being and what it means in relation to our everyday lives, Wind Tide and Oar will pursue a poetic approach to the filmmaking process to develop an intimate response to those at sea, their lived environment and material reality. The director’s accomplished 16mm practice and hand-cranked Bolex camera will add to the ‘out of ordinary time’ qualities of the project, aligning the flow of filmmaking with that of traditional seafaring, and developing a unique conversation between the two practices’ characteristics of presence, patience, turbulence and drama. 


The project will encounter a diverse range of seafarers, all linked by the physical work of sailing, the elements which propel them, and the multitudinous range of philosophies that hold them true to their course. Their experiences, which cross social class, race, gender and age, stand in stark contrast to our present day engagement with the sea; that of pollution, extraction and exploitation. 


The resulting film will utilise a materially present and responsible filmmaking practice - grounded in the experiential – to carry an audience towards a shared connectedness which underlines sailing’s vital ecological quality, rootedness, and importance today. It aims to show on land in arts, film, museum and marine settings, and also to partner with a sail-training charity to take a sail-powered exhibition voyage, onboard a traditional Thames sailing barge crewed by sail-trainees, visiting coastal locations for film screenings and learning opportunities.



Huw Wahl - Filmmaker


Wahl's films use the form-giving, material qualities of moving image to explore the power of creative action and its transformative potential. Having premiered his latest 16mm film The Republics (2020) at CPH:DOX film festival in 2020, he was tipped as “one of the most promising young artists in the UK”

Huw was introduced to sailing by Rose, his sister, on her boat, Defiance. Her eagerness for attempting everything without using her engine sparked many conversations about sailing, the skills and experience needed to become an engine-less seafarer, and what connections it has to filmmaking.    

Rose Ravetz - Sailor and

Production Manager


Rose's first experience of sailing was crossing the Atlantic ocean at age 19, having left Manchester where she grew up with a dream to travel. She spent 4 years on various ocean crossings and adventures, eventually reaching New Zealand, only to sail the passage back as professional crew on the classic superyacht schooner, Atlantic. 

Since her return in 2017 she has worked on many different sailing vessels, as well as for a traditional rigging team on Cutty Sark and HMS Gannet. She owns her own 22ft boat called Defiance, which she is currently restoring, having taken out the engine. Rose is fascinated by the art of sailing engineless, its history and its future potential. 


As well as premiering the film underneath the hull of the famous tea clipper Cutty Sark, at Royal Museums Greenwich, and a variety of on-land screenings, we are thinking big and aiming to set sail on the engineless Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid, for a 3-month sail-powered screening and sail-training voyage.  


Operated by Sea-Change Sailing Trust, Blue Mermaid plans to visit 10 ports on the South East coast where she will open her hatches to the local community for film screenings and associated events. Socially excluded young people and adult trainees from the areas visited will help to sail the barge between ports, learning important life and maritime skills along the way. 


In addition, the film will be submitted to important national and international film festivals, and is expected to tour the UK by land, screening in a variety of different settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas, yacht clubs and venues part of the Shipshape Network. 


Here is a zoomable map of the proposed sail-powered screening and sail-training voyage, click this link to go direct to the map.


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Royal Museums Greenwich and specifically the Cutty Sark are supporting the project through helping us hold a premiere, exhibition and workshops in collaboration with National Historic Ships UK.


The Shipshape Network, provided by National Historic Ships UK, brings together all those with an interest in Britain's maritime heritage and ship preservation. They will support the project throughout all stages with advice, networking and promotion. 


The Barn Arts, a multi-arts centre in Aberdeenshire Scotland with years of experience in ecological thinking and making, will help develop a rigorous ecological rationale and campaign from start to finish.


The Sea-Change Sailing Trust provide residential sailing opportunities for young people and vulnerable adults on their newly built Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid, to facilitate learning and development in a unique environment. Blue Mermaid will be a key filming location and the charity will contribute to our screening schedule and help us build connections to the sailing community.

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The Maritime Heritage Trust Campaigns nationwide for a better deal for historic ships and is particularly interested in working maritime heritage, the creation of Heritage Harbours, and wider youth engagement with training on historic ships. They will support the project with advice, and promotion and future crowdfunding campaigns.


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