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Sidewalk 2007: Row row row your boat


Contributing writer Stacy Vance reviewed “Row Hard No Excuses” by director Luke Wolbach:

row hard no excusesTwo people, 3,000 miles, 100 days at sea.

I love a good adventure story. Man attempts to conquer nature. Nature takes the lead. Man becomes one with nature. Or does he?

In the documentary “Row Hard No Excuses,” John Zeigler and Tom Mailhot set out to travel the open seas in a trans-Atlantic rowing race from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

The film screens Sunday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.

A look at ‘Row Hard No Excuses.’

Director Luke Wolbach follows their story from building the boat, to receiving support (or not) from their families, to meeting their competitors.

The seemingly mad rowers from all over the world have different motivations: for the spirit of adventure, to test their fortitude, or, as in the case of John and Tom, to win. And in the end, their $120,000-plus entry fee could earn them the grand prize … a trophy.

row hard no excuses

John Zeigler and Tom Mailhot start strong off the coast of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in ‘Row Hard No Excuses.’ (Photo by Diane O’Grady)

row hard no excuses

Zeigler shows his calloused hands. (Photo by Tom Mailhot)

On-board “video diaries” from the rowers supplements complements the main footage. If you’ve ever wondered about the particulars of such a trip — what exactly does happen to your butt after sitting for a couple of weeks straight? — you’ll find out. And if you’ve ever dreamed of spending two to three months straight in a confined space with your best friend, wonder no more.

“Row Hard No Excuses” shows how some people are driven to push themselves to new limits in order feel alive. It delivers what a good film should: a peek into an obscure, yet very real, slice of life outside of the everyday.

stacy vanceStacy Vance — who worked as an actress on the Birmingham-based feature “Killing Christian” and the Sidewalk Scramble entry “WTF?” — is a sales rep for Raypress Corporation, a local specialty label company.

“Row Hard No Excuses” will screen at 4 p.m. Sunday at Alabama Power.


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