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.
anything. And it was a wonderful way to see the world. This idea of the sea as a challenging yet yielding source of pleasure and satisfaction differed completely from Joseph Conrad’s view of it as a menacing and destructive element. Or from Herman Melville’s image of its “remorseless fang.” English yachtsmen of the mid to late nineteenth century who wrote books about their coastal sailing adventures—John MacGregor, R. T. McMullen, E. E. Middleton—agreed with Conrad. Going to sea, even in the
Zealand contain large sailing constituencies, but public enthusiasm for single-handed, long-distance sailing is more widespread in France than in any other country. This fascination began in large part because of two men and their sailing exploits in the 1960s and 1970s: Bernard Moitessier and Eric Tabarly. When I asked the Vendée Globe skippers who had inspired them to start sailing, and to sail single-handed in particular, they always cited one or both of these legendary French sailors.
kid could ask for more? He was good at it, too. Winning races motivated him to keep racing—in longer races and bigger boats. It was his performance in the prestigious Figaro—a four-leg solo race in one-designs (each boat identical) around the French coast—that got him into the elite of French professional sailors. He came ninth in 1984 and fifth the next year. Then he won it. He gave up his technical teaching job and began the hunt for sponsors and bigger races. Like most of the skippers as
brain told me to forget about trivialities like sailing our boat to the Virgin Islands. Instead, I had to do something really important right away: sleep. If I didn’t, there would be trouble. Hallucinations are nature’s way of telling us to get a little shut-eye. “Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing, / Beloved from pole to pole,” said the ancient Mariner. Getting sufficient sleep is difficult enough for people living comfortably and stably ashore. Probably most of us are sleep-deprived to one degree
astern of Dumont, still sailing her conservative race, staying well to the north, close to Moitessier’s preferred Southern Ocean latitude of forty degrees. Her morale, worn down by news of all the capsizes, recovered with word of the miracle rescues. She regained much of her confidence and no longer worried so much that, with boats going over and down like bathtub toys, her own could easily be next. She decided to concentrate on staying alive and finishing the race, however long it took. It was