This blog post is part of a summer-long series of posts written by Humanities Blogger, Kristen Costa. Check back weekly to get a fresh, informative look at the themes explored in the films we’ll be showing as part of the newportFILM Outdoors series, presented by Lila Delman Real Estate International.

Back by popular demand, this week’s film was first screened last April at newportFILM Sports, an all-sports weekend-long film festival, and is first ever film newportFILM has shown for a second time!

The Weekend Sailor captures the amazing underdog story of an unlikely sailing team’s quest for victory in the first-ever Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race in 1974. The race, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race, was meant to showcase the yachts of some of the great sailing nations around the globe like Great Britain and France, but in the end, it was the long shot Mexican team, Sayula II, led by Ramon Carlin, who stunned the racing world with their victory.

17 yachts, 7 nations, 7 months of sailing. It was the first ever race of its kind and the winner would be the pride of the racing world. Each team built special boats and hired the best crews to win the bragging rights. The Mexican team was the most inexperienced of them all – Captain Carlin, a self-made millionaire and casual sailor, was in his 50s and had few long-term sailing adventures under his belt. In fact, most of the 12-person crew only met a short time before the race began and Carlin’s boat was brand-new.

So how did they do it? Amazing leadership, trust, and true heart. Crew member Butch Dalrymple-Smith said of the team, “We won because of our skipper. We exceeded our own ability because Ramon Carlin trusted us.” The film really isn’t just about the sailing, but how a strong leader and good team can accomplish anything, no matter the odds stacked against them.

Rebranded as the Volvo Ocean Race in 2001, the around-the-world sailing race is held every three years. Newport was a stop on the 2014-2015 adventure (and will be again for the 2017-2018 race), bringing world-class sailing from around the globe to our backyard. The technological advances and methods in ship building have changed dramatically from the first race in the 1970s, but it’s safe to say that the winners display the same passion and heart for the sport as the Mexican team in 1974.

Ramon Carlin passed away only a couple of months ago, so his contributions in this documentary are even more special to see. To read more about him and his life, see the New York Times piece written at the time of his death.

For more information on this week’s Outdoor screening of The Weekend Sailor, visit

The Humanities Blog Series is made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independant affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.