Red Dot on the Ocean: The Matt Rutherford Story

Once labeled a “youth-at-risk,” 30-year old Matt Rutherford risked it all in an attempt to become the first person to sail alone, nonstop around North and South America. Red Dot on the Ocean is the story of Matt’s death-defying voyage and the childhood odyssey that shaped him.

Red Dot on the Ocean is the story of Matt Rutherford, a severely troubled youth, who became a sailing legend. Departing Annapolis, MD in a scrappy old 27-foot fiberglass sloop without fanfare, 30-year-old Rutherford braved the icebergs of the arctic and mountainous waves of Cape Horn to become the only person to ever sail single-handed, non-stop around the Americas; a 27,000 mile journey many professional sailors declared “a suicide mission.” As a youngster, Matt’s ADHD and tics made life at home and at school near-impossible. At age 13 he was in drug rehab and he spent his remaining teen years more on the streets than in school. Then, at age 17, locked up in a cell, he had an epiphany and decided to turn his life around. Matt attended and excelled at a special high school for troubled youth where he developed a desire to explore the world. After graduating, he bought his first sailboat – sight unseen on the Internet. Over the next few years he bought boats on the cheap, fixed them up, and learned to sail on the fly. In 2008, Matt embarked on a single-handed voyage from the USA to Europe, West Africa and back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. He’d found his calling. In 2011, Matt took on his biggest challenge: a solo, nonstop circumnavigation of the Americas. He did it for himself, and to raise money for disabled sailors. After 309 days at sea, Matt achieved his goal and sailed into Annapolis to a hero’s welcome. Matt’s story is told through his own words and interviews with his family, sailing experts, and others. We use family photos and video of his childhood; Matt’s own footage of his early sailing days; and video, audio logs, and stills from his historic around the Americas voyage. To this we add additional ocean footage; archival visuals of earlier explorers Matt admires; and re-enactments from Matt’s troubled past. Matt Rutherford’s story is full of surprises. It is truly inspiring and makes us all feel we can do more than we ever imagined.

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