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Review: Close to the Wind by Pete Goss

June 4 1999

Originally published in England   Close to the Wind is now available for American readers.  Close to the Wind is written by British Sailor Pete Goss.

The main topic is his sailing of the 1996-97 Vendee Globe.  This is a non stop singlehanded race.

At age 3 Pete's parents took him to see the start of the 1964 OSTAR singlehanded race.   This visit to the sea set Pete's course.

He joined the Royal Marines.  As part of his duties in 1986 he sailed a double handed trans atlantic race.  Goss' boat suffered damage and when hauled in America the keel fell off.

It was during this voyage that Goss decided to attempt to sail a single handed race around the world.  Goss says: "I now had a clear goal and it was up to me to make it happen." 

By 1988 Goss was sailing across the Atlantic single handed in a catamaran.  He had another successful race- 2nd in class. 

Next in Goss' road to the Vendee was time as training skipper for the 1992 British Steel Challenge.  This led to skippering Hafbrau around the world.  3rd overall was the result for Goss and crew.

After returning Goss decided to dedicate himself to his Vendee Globe project full time. 

By November 1995 Goss was able to start construction of his  boat.  Finding funding was a constant struggle.  Finally Goss struck a deal with a perfume company.  The perfume brand Aqua Corum would become the title sponsor. 

Goss was able to sail another single handed transtatlantic this time on his new 50 footer Aqua Corum.  Although not a success results wise this race helped grow Goss' confidence in his new boat. 

After this it was off to France for the start of the Vendee Globe.  Goss had gambled that a well built 50 footer could keep up with 60 footers.  This proved to be not the case.  Christmas of 1996 saw Goss behind most of the 60's.  Then French sailor Raphael Dinelli capsized.  Goss went to the rescue. 

Although Dinelli was 160 miles to windward, Goss hewed to the tradition of the sea and went after him. Sailing under storm jib alone Goss sailed upwind in hurricane conditions.  Goss reached Dinelli and with the help of the Australian Air Force brought him onboard alive.  After dropping Dinelli in Australia he sailed onto complete the Vendee. 

Of the 16 starters only 6 has finished, Goss taking 5th amongst the finishers. 

Close to the Wind is a very thorough book.  It exposes the reader to all aspects that a contemporary professional sailor must excel at to make it around the world from construction to communications.

In one of the books best passages Goss writes about his response to the classic question is the glass half full or half empty?  Goss answers as follows: "Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty?  Well, I say drink the bastard anyway." 

Certainly Goss has both full glass and empty glass moments.  However, he was able to always focus on his goal of sailing the Vendee Globe.  He finished validating his approach.

The next glass for Goss to drink will be The Race.   He is building a catamaran for The Race.  Expect him to compete as hard as anyone.

Note: Close to the Wind is available in the TMI Bookstore.  The TMI Online Bookstore is in association with Amazon.com.  Priced at $ 17.50 (list price of $ 25.00) Close to the Wind will make a great Fathers Day Gift.