The speed of development in the world of micro-technology and the lure of YouTube fame has led to an explosion of travel DVDs. Many of them provide some stunning footage of breathtaking vistas or friendly, rather mundane banter between the protagonists, but they are generally formulaic. This shouldn’t be a surprise as film-making, like every craft, is best executed by the professionals, but once in a while something different comes along, like Austin Vince’s ‘Terra Circa’ or Sjaak Lucassen’s ‘Sjaak the World’.
I’ve met Sjaak, but wondered if the novelty of spending 5 years on the road with an R1 Yamaha would be the DVD’s only hook; the usual formula, but without the knobbly tyres. It isn’t.
It’s personal interview interspersed with some extreme footage, but simultaneously manages to be classified as neither. In the early segments of the film the viewer is introduced to the man and his travel ethics in a remarkably compelling way and the story unfolds without any heroism, or self-aggrandisement.
That is particularly refreshing, because there’s certainly room for it: riding an R1 through rivers as deep as the headlight, through sand deeper than the belly pan or through a Congolese quagmire demonstrating stunning clutch control, deserves accolade, but doesn’t really get any. Sjaak just likes riding his bike and seeing beautiful places, so he’s incapable of linear travel and is disinterested in joining points on a map.
Only at the end are we subjected to stats, which are actually quite welcome; distance travelled and countries visited. In essence, the graphics, editing and direction create a docu-film that really inspires, deservedly endorses one of Yamaha’s more extreme products, and extols the virtue of the real ethos of overlanding: following your heart on any bike, anywhere.
You can get a copy here