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Fatal Storm: The Inside Story of the Tragic Sydney-Hobart Race Hardcover – June 30, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 251 pages
  • Publisher: International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1 edition (June 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071356983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071356985
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the world of competitive off-shore sailing, Christmas Day is thought of as Boxing Day Eve--that is, the eve of the annual Sydney-to-Hobart Race. One of the world's three major offshore races (along with the Fastnet out of England and America's Newport Race to Bermuda), the 630-mile course from Sydney, Australia, to Hobart, Tasmania, is a test of skills, guts, and endurance in notoriously unpredictable, fickle waters--and in any weather.

On Boxing Day, 1998, the 115 boats jockeying at the starting line off Sydney's Nielsen Park Beach had been warned that low-pressure weather systems were conspiring to guarantee a wild and chancy race. Yet few sailors anticipated the ferocity of the storm that descended around two o'clock the next morning, whipping up gale-force winds and waves tall enough to send 25-ton yachts "spearing into midair," then "plunging down into the trough ... like repeatedly launching a truck off a 30-foot ramp and awaiting the crash." The race quickly devolved into the worst sailing disaster in recent memory. Seven crews abandoned their boats. Over 50 sailors were rescued under near-impossible circumstances. Seven died, and five boats sank. Journalist Rob Mundle follows the dramatic struggles in Fatal Storm, skillfully re-creating from firsthand accounts the stories of bravery, luck, and folly that left a handful of sailors convinced they'd never go near the Hobart again. Yet as one veteran yachtsman lived to point out, "It's something you just have to do.... You can't be under the illusion at any time that it is safe." --Svenja Soldovieri

From Publishers Weekly

Joining the summer's books on the treacherous Vend?e Globe sailing race (Derek Lundy's The Godforsaken Sea and Pete Goss's Close to Wind), Mundle's effort is the first of three forthcoming titles about the 1998 Sydney-Hobart yachting race (Pocket is publishing Martin Dugard's account in September; Little, Brown will offers Bruce Knecht's next year). In that race, seven boats were abandoned, five sank, six people died and 55 sailors were hoisted by rescuers from the impetuous seas. Seasoned journalist Mundle, himself a three-time Sydney-Hobart veteran, writes a knowledgeable account of the 115 boats and 1135 competitors that left Sydney Harbor on December 26, having precious little warning about the brutal cyclone that awaited them in the perilous Bass Strait. When the seas began towering to the height of five-story buildings, sailors were tossed about their yachts like rag dolls in a malevolent washing machine. Mundle, who covered the race for Australian television, deliberately sails around the tempest of controversies that followed the event, preferring to treat the story as a straight job of blow-by-blow reportage. While his careful plotting of a dozen boats' travails is certainly of interest, a surreal sense of dispassion pervades the text like an eerie calm found in the eye of a storm. Nonetheless, moments of poignancy stand out. One strung-out sailor hallucinates a monkey sitting atop a jagged stump of mast, while several others vow that spending hours in a wrecked cabin full of vomit, diesel fuel and salt-water convinced them to change their lives. "I've been a pretty selfish bastard," says one chastened survivor. "Just ask my wife." 40,000 first printing.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone going to sea or building a boat to sail offshore!
Bob Johnstone (bobj@jboats.com)
Mundle attempts to show the personal side of the individuals as well as the intense struggle on each boat and helicopter.
R. Spell
Those who have read The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger will find this book irresistable.
"sammii"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wondered what it's really like to be inside the cabin of a sailboat that has just been flipped by an 80-foot wave and 100 mph winds, read Fatal Storm. Mundle's sailing experience and descriptive prose made this fateful race come alive for me. Long after I had put the book down from a record three-hour reading session, my world was still rocking, I still felt the wind and rain in my face, and I found myself glancing behind, waiting for the next rogue wave to slam me down one more time. Anyone even remotely interested or connected to the world of sailing should not miss this spellbinding tale. Most important, you will remember its important lessons when you leave for an offshore cruise or race of your own.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Having met Rob Mundle at The Armchair Sailor in Newport, I am extremely impressed by his overwhelming concern and thoughtfulness for the people involved in the 1998 Sydney-Hobart Race. Mundle obviously went to great lengths to get the most factual information about the race, and he weaves the hundreds of stories together wonderfully in his book. Excellent book on a moving subject.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bruce V. Culver on April 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I finished this book on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles...with one disaster after another occurring in this massive storm, the writer keeps the reader actively turning pages throughout the book. You would not believe the bravery of everyone involved, from the actual racing teams to the rescue teams, not one person was left unphased by this experience.
I am not an active sailor now, but with some experience in racing with a crew on sailboats, I found the account of this true story gripping.
Certainly, a fun book to read, even if you are not into sailing. It may even convince you to never go open ocean sailing!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on May 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I decided to read this book, I actually started with another book on the subject recommended by Sports Illustrated. Based on Amazon reviewers I selected this one and wasn't disappointed.
Mundle attempts to show the personal side of the individuals as well as the intense struggle on each boat and helicopter. This is a spellbinding story which he did a good job of relaying. I learned about sailing but more importantly, I learned what it felt like to confront your worst nightmare come true.
This is a great subject correctly described by the author and as a bonus, the pictures in the book are good also. Off-coast sailing? Not for me after this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "sammii" on July 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is simply a superb book. Its narrative force practically places you on board a number of the yachts as they head toward Hobart. It is both well researched and written, being based on many interviews with race participants, and does not skimp on the necessary factual information. The text is also well supported by an amazing group of photographs. Those who have read The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger will find this book irresistable. For those who have not, I suggest you buy both!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever wondered what it's really like to be inside the cabin of a sailboat that has just been flipped by an 80-foot wave and 100 mph winds, read Fatal Storm. Mundle's sailing experience and descriptive prose made this fateful race come alive for me. Long after I had put the book down from a record three-hour reading session, my world was still rocking, I still felt the wind and rain in my face, and I found myself glancing behind, waiting for the next rogue wave to slam me down one more time. Anyone even remotely interested or connected to the world of sailing should not miss this spellbinding tale. Most important, you will remember its important lessons when you leave for an offshore cruise or race of your own.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A gripping story of an exciting yet tragic event. The book is written in such a fashion that it is even more dramatic and nail-biting because of its lack of hype and superlatives. Were it not for the spectacular photos the storm and the heroic feats would appear to be fictitous. The stuff of exaggerated old sea stories. Every sailor, in fact anyone who has ever been on an ocean, will find this book frightening but will not be able to put it down. I started reading it on a plane, continued in a NY cab (anyone who has been in a NY cab knows how difficult that is), read it standing on the subway and finished it at 3am, all on the same day.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The book was very informative, filled with a lot of details, brought from various points of view (amateur sailors, Search and rescue personnel, meteorology staff etc.)
However, I felt that the sequence of the various chapters can be improved. It is very distracting when you read a story about a crew that is abandoning ship into the liferafts and all of a sudden you stop. This is especially hard when the story is a known one that previously circulated through media and among sailing enthusiasts in the marine industry. Knowing that something went wrong with those liferafts and that people lost lives, it was very distracting to stop reading at the "abandon ship" point and continue with other chapters about some other matters. (This is very strong in the case of the chapters "Winston Churchill 1" & "Winston Churchill 2").
Other than the confusing sequence of going back and fourth among the various events, I felt that the writer did an excellent job describing everything in details. It gives the reader a feeling of almost participating in the race, being in danger and being involved in the rescue.
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