Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World's Most Dangerous Waters
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"The best book ever written about the terrifying business of single-handed sailing--. Lundy tells a harrowing tale, as tight and gripping as The Perfect Storm or Into Thin Air."--San Francisco Chronicle
A chilling account of the world's most dangerous sailing race, the Vendée Globe, Godforsaken Sea is at once a hair-raising adventure story, a graceful evocation of the sailing life, and a thoughtful meditation on danger and those who seek it.
This is the story of the 1996-1997 Vendée Globe, a solo sailing race that binds its competitors to just a few, cruelly simple rules: around the world from France by way of Antarctica, no help, no stopping, one boat, one sailor. The majority of the race takes place in the Southern Ocean, where icebergs and gale-force winds are a constant threat, and the waves build to almost unimaginable heights. As author Derek Lundy puts it: "try to visualize a never-ending series of five- or six-story buildings moving toward you at about forty miles an hour."
The experiences of the racers reveal the spirit of the men and women who push themselves to the limits of human endeavor--even if it means never returning home. You'll meet the gallant Brit who beats miles back through the worst seas to save a fellow racer, the sailing veteran who calmly smokes cigarette after cigarette as his boat capsizes, and the Canadian who, hours before he disappears forever, dispatches this message: "If you drag things out too long here, you're sure to come to grief."
Derek Lundy elevates the story of one race into an appreciation of those thrill-seekers who embody the most heroic and eccentric aspects of the human condition.
demonstrated in the race: under fire, a cool, methodical approach to problems; stoic patience in the face of physical danger and discomfort; a willingness to risk his life for a comrade. He saw himself as the point man for a unit composed of designers, builders, fund-raisers, and all the technical specialists of the sailing trades—“we” would muscle our way around the world through the Southern Ocean, not “I.” If you wanted to pick someone for an advertising campaign to promote the adventurous
Losing a mile or two didn’t matter at this stage. It was better to be careful, and safe. Pour it on later. In fact, maybe this wasn’t such a minor decision after all. Perhaps an aggressive start was necessary to help set the psychological stage for the rest of the race. More important, maybe losing a mile or two now wasn’t such a good idea. Often, less than a day, sometimes a few hours, had separated Vendée Globe, and BOC, finishing positions. Just a few hundred miles or less. In that case,
in the conditions Ouhlen describes really is the sailing equivalent of rocket science. I’ve always regarded spinnakers with the cruising sailor’s distaste—they’re nasty, brutish sails that make you sweat, worry, and pay constant attention. But I have grudgingly participated in wrestling with them on racing boats I’ve crewed on—often enough to be certain that the Vendée Globe sailors are in a completely different spinnaker bracket from me. And it’s one I don’t want to enter; in fact, never could.
Vendée Globe sailors too will keep sailing. Dinelli said he hadn’t been afraid as he waited on his sinking boat. Maybe so. But he later paid the price, and he’s still paying it. “In my head, these images are terrible, very hard. At night I have nightmares.” At one point, as he told me about his ordeal, Dinelli abruptly stopped talking, stood up, and walked over to the door of the house. He opened it and looked out over the road and the nearby neat, hedge-rowed fields of the Vendée toward the sea
in the hazy distance. After a minute or so, collected again, he came back to his chair and resumed the story. Later, when he went out for a while to pick up some visiting English sailing friends, his future wife, Virginie, told me that Raphaël had been fortunate in having had the opportunity to deal with the trauma of his sinking. It was a matter of getting back on the horse right away. After the rescue, Goss set course for Tasmania, more than two thousand miles away. They were overtaken by the