Even those who lose can be remembered for heroic things.
While our side eventually won the Crimean War, the event that everyone remembers from that war was the doomed Charge of the Light Brigade. Similarly, in the US, the battle at the Alamo is remembered and venerated.
Heroism in a doomed cause is also not an uncommon theme in movies made outside of the US - "North Face" and "Das Boot" are two very good films in that category.
I have no doubt that there may already be (or someday will be) a film on "...the heroic doomed NVA & VC fighters that died during the failed Tet Offensive but were vindicated by that offensive changing the course of their war for liberation" or something like that. I doubt that film would be a popular one in the US, however.
Yes, Jezza is remembering his audience, but what he is doing is also not that unusual.
I agree the bad docking was overdone. One note gags don't bear perpetual repetition, and I cringed when Clarkson hit that poor woman's boat. Aside from that, an entertaining episode and a successful attempt at branching into other forms of transport. I really don't see how anyone could have thought the scenery boring--as an occasional boater I would love to whiz around some of those rivers. I'm amused by the offended complaints about the trio not respecting the sanctity of boating (as if they treated cars far more seriously?). The final stretch of the journey looked very miserable and hazardous indeed--those waves weren't fake! Clarkson occasionally threatened to turn the show into a documentary, which I usually don't mind, but the anecdotes weren't terribly interesting, and nice as the boat was, it owes its fame to being used in a criminally unjust and sordid war. James seemed to get less than usual screentime in this episode, thanks to the slowness of his boat.