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Godforaksen Sea: Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters is an account of the 1996-97 Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race. The author is Canadian Derek Lundy a lawyer by vocation and a sailor on vacation.
Lundy has an epic and tragic subject to work with. The 96-97 Vendee had a high attrition rate and tragically the death of Canadian Sailor Gerry Roufs.
One of the strong points of the book is the thorough treatment that each skipper receives. Lundy made an effort to interview each one. He also gives you details on each sailors boat, and it's advantages and disadvantages.
Noted solo sailor Isabelle Autissier sailed the 96-97 Vendee. Lundy makes sure we know of her entire involvement in sailing. He covers Autissier's previous around the world races such as the 94-95 BOC.
The book makes sure to thoroughly describe the several rescue attempts necessitated by Southern Ocean Sailing.
Another strong aspect of the book is how Lundy investigates the historical antecedents of solo sailing. He describes how many of the French sailors were influences by the deeds and writings of Bernard Motissier and Eric Tabarly. Lundy sites how race winner Christophe Augin directly quotes Motissier in an end of the race dispatch saying, "I will enjoy these last moments on the sea in communion with my boat." One of the themes that runs through the book is the difference in the techniques used by early soloists such as Motissier and these modern all out solo racing sailors.
Unfortunately the good story line and Lundy's apt methods of telling the story is marred by several very basic factual errors. For one on P. XXIV in the prologue he states, "The bare facts: twenty seven thousand miles". This is a strict error of fact. The World Sailing Speed Record Council lists the course distance as 21760. This distance is listed in connection with the record that Christophe Augin set sailing Geodis in the race that Godforasken Sea covers. The same prologues contains reference to handling sixty foot boats. True most of the boats are 60 footers, but in this Vendee Globe Pete Goss sailed a 50 footer.
For the careful reader the factual errors detract from a good story well told. Errors such as these make doubt about the authors conclusions creep in, but not enough to seriously harm my opinion of the book.
Godforsaken Sea is available from the TMI Bookstore should you wish to purchase it.