Untold: Race of the Century Review – sailing into history

By Romey Norton
Published: September 6, 2022 (Last updated: December 5, 2023)


Whilst it may feel a bit slower than other documentaries in this series, it is an excellent example of narrative-driven documentary storytelling.

Netflix’s Untold: Race of the Century was released on Tuesday, September 6, 2022.

Untold brings us the story of the winner takes all, do or die race of the century, The America’s cup, and how one Australian team went to hell and back to win. At one hour and twenty-two minutes, this is another intriguing and almost unbelievable story in the Untold series, and I highly recommend watching. 

America held the longest-running winning streak in history, 132 years, in the most prestigious sailing competition in the world. The New York Yacht club was not in the business of losing, and they were prepared to do anything to ensure that the cup stayed in the United States, Which led to dirty tricks and dirty campaigns.

The America’s cup was in the top leagues, for the rich and famous, the elite, and something only other people could dream of being able to compete in. It’s not just a cup and reputation that is at stake, there’s a billion-dollar prize fund that goes with winning. It would certainly take ego, arrogance, and determination to take on and beat America for this cup, as I don’t know anyone who would want to lose that amount of money. Then out of the blue, here come those crazy Aussies, ready to blow people’s minds.

This documentary has interviews with the scrappy, savvy, hungry Australians on their journey to dethroning America and taking the cup back down under. There are also interviews with American sailors at the time, sharing their experience of the race. 

In order to win and hold that precious cup, they had to win four races. The first one to win four races wins the America’s cup. It happens only every four years. You have to design the boat, and build the boat, so the projects require a lot of time, energy, and money.

Watching and listening to the Australian team who were brought together from many different backgrounds, reminiscing about their development team and how they put this ship together, is lovely to watch, it’s sweet and comforting. Their passion to make something radical, revolutionary, and the effort that went into it is inspiring. Their main invention was a unique keel, which gave them an advantage and helped them win. As the documentary continues we’re taken on the final race between America and Australia, a very intense and nail-biting scene. 

There is footage from the days of them creating the boat, footage from sailing, mixed with modern-day interviews. The interviews are tight and intimate, but sometimes feel a bit formal. There is a great pace to this documentary, a lot of tension builds as we’re taken through the race of a lifetime. The final scenes of the celebrations that took place after Australia won were incredible. People coming together and celebrating is such a fantastic and heartwarming watch.

I did feel sorry for the US sailor as a lot of pressure was put on him to continue the legacy, and he failed, and you can still see the pain in his eyes in his interviews today. 

Watching this I learned that sailing is not just physical, it’s a very mentally taxing sport, and I was shocked at how invested I got into this story. (I’m afraid of water and would never go on a small boat like these.) A quite phenomenal story, with mammoth effort and determination. Whilst it may feel a bit slower than other documentaries in this series, it is an excellent example of narrative-driven documentary storytelling. I recommend watching it if you’re a fan of sailing, sports, or lifestyle, investigative documentaries.

What do you think of Netflix’s Untold season 2: Race of the Century? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix. 

Movie Reviews, Movies, Netflix, Streaming Service