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Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World's Most Dangerous Waters Paperback


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Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World's Most Dangerous Waters + A Voyage for Madmen + The Long Way
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (June 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720007
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Southern Ocean is the sailor's Everest. These are unquestionably the most dangerous waters in the world: hurricane infested, frigid, wholly unpredictable, and so remote, according to Derek Lundy, that "only a few astronauts have ever been further from land than a person on a vessel in that position." Encircling Antarctica, this fearsome body of water has terrorized sailors and wrecked the ablest of ships throughout maritime history. Imagine, then, a round-the-world, single-handed sailing race of the most extreme kind--no stopping, no assistance--requiring each lone sailor to spend half the total race distance (roughly 13,000 miles) fighting this nightmarish, merciless sea.

The race is the Vendee Globe, and The Godforsaken Sea is the story of the 1996-1997 competition. Fourteen men and two women began the race in Les Sables-d'Olonne, France. Six officially finished; three were wrecked and rescued; one sailor performed emergency surgery on himself mid-race; one perished. This is high adventure of the most gripping, perilous sort, demanding a tightly controlled, suspenseful narrative: "Visualize a never-ending series of five- or six-story buildings, with sloping sides of various angles ... moving towards [the sailors] at forty miles an hour. Some of the time, the top one or two stories will collapse on top of them." But Lundy delivers more, weaving a superior fabric of psychology and physics, action and reflection. Even the utter novice will emerge understanding the architecture of racing vessels, the evolution of storms, the physical and psychological courage required to survive five-and-a half months battling the ocean alone.

Sailing aficionados may already believe that the Vendee Globe is the pinnacle of extreme sports. With Lundy's help, armchair adventurers can dig in and hang on for the ride. --Svenja Soldovieri --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

On November 3, 1996, the 16 solo sailboat racers of the third Vende Globe contest left the little French port of Les Sables dOlonne for a four-month round trip whose most trying feature would be a circumnavigation of Antarctica. Lundy, an experienced amateur sailor, followed the race on its Web site, on which the race organizers provided regular updates and on which some of the sailors posted bulletins. From the beginning, its obvious that the competitors are a bit more committed than your average weekend sailor. They hire sleep specialists to determine their personal best-sleep periods so theyll know when to put their boats on automatic pilot for a quick catnap. One sailor, Pete Goss, took a scalpel to his inflamed elbow, following a doctors faxed instructions while his boat heeled and all his instruments slid off their tray (so now Im frothing at the mouth, and it was quite funny, really). As Lundy describes these sailors encounters with the raging southern ocean and waves like a never-ending series of five- or six-story buildings... moving towards [the boat] at about forty miles an hour, readers will get caught up in the race and in the fates of the 16 racers. Despite all the excitement, the book has a buffered feel. Quite simply, Lundy wasnt there. Its a measure of his skill, then, that he manages to make the action as palpable as he does, lacing his report of the race with a little maritime history, ocean science and allusions to the likes of Conrad and Joyce. This literate adventure book was a bestseller in Canada. $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC selection; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I bought this book because I'm a sailor and I like reading about sailing adventures.
Rick Buchaniec (erikwarior@aol.com)
A real tribute to those sailors who risk their lives in the Southern Ocean and continue to beat the odds!
Rainy Hafermann
It would've made a fine magazine article, but as a book, it held WAY too much filler.
Hugh Gurin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere (South Africa) and sailed Hobie 14s on the Cape Coast. You really learn to respect (actually dread is a better way to describe it sometimes) the sea if you sail in these fast little craft. I can only imagine how awesome the Southern Ocean must be. Lundy does an excellent job of describing the events as they unfolded in the 1996/1997 Vendee Globe. It is a truly terrifying account.
A yachtie friend of mine summed this book up really well: if you want to enjoy sailing don't read books like this one. They'll just scare you into never setting sail again. To me this book was awful and captivating at the same time - you just can't put it down, because you know there is going to be this horrible gut wrenching saga taking place in a godforsaken place where the seas are like 'six story buildings' and 'knock downs' are common.
Lundy does his best to delve into the minds of these (in my opinion)crazy competitors. His research on the race, navigation and seamanship in general is obviously excellent. He does seem to know what he is talking about. The technical stuff is mostly fascinating and thorough.
But ultimately you have to do a big Galic shrug of the shoulders if you want to understand the sailors who compete in the Vendee Globe. All of Lundy's research and interviews with the competitors fails in this respect...they're just stark raving bonkers, just accept it!
Buy this book but be warned...get something cheerful to read afterwards.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a great vicarious thrill. 16 racers (14 men and 2 women) traverse the world's most dangerous waters for the fame and fortune of winning the Vendee Globe around the world race. Battling constant hurricane conditions, 60-70 foot seas, and the everpresent threat of icebergs; these men and women risk their very lives. Unlike most of the other famous sailing events, this is a single person competition, one person against the elements, guiding their small crafts through what truly are 'godforsaken seas.' Derek Lundy does a great job describing the action, but he deserves far less credit than the bigger-than-life sailors who competed in the Vendee Globe. The only drawback to the book is Lundy's heavy reliance on sailing jargon, but he does a credible job explaining the technical aspects...this makes the book a bit slow at times, but this seems a necessary evil. Overall, a great book, even if you know little about sailing. I can't wait to track the Millenium Vendee Globe.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L. Gregg on November 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whew! What a story! The book is very well-written and will enable the reader to experience the nail-biting excitement of the Race from the safety of a cozy LazyBoy. I've read other reviews here and found that a few criticized the 'bouncing around'. This actually helps to keep things exciting and the book moves at a quick pace. The short chapters helped me (busy) steal a quick chapter here and there. I found myself reading much of this while engaged in air travel and often caught myself breathing heavily and grunting out 'wow', 'ugh', and 'oh' (fellow passengers often inquired about what I was reading). I'm a Northwest sailor who's experienced some rough weather. This made my experiences seem like pony rides compared to this wild adventure. Imagine spending a few months - alone and non-stop - surfing down 5-story waves at 25 knots and living through it! This is truly an incredible adventure and these are most incredible people. The writer guides you through the experiences of the participants and provides glimpses into the backround and make-up of the super-humans who dreamed, dared, and survived (and those that did not) this ordeal.
My only criticism is that the maps were too few and not nearly as detailed as they should have been (pull out your Atlas and you'll be happy). There could have been a few photos that would have made this great book even greater.
If you're a sailor, you'll love this book. If not, you'll still be entertained and amazed by what humans can endure and achieve.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Konrei TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The old adage "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is usually a good one, but the fact that the art director of GODFORSAKEN SEA actually used the exact same cover photo as Pete Goss's CLOSE TO THE WIND is an indication of what a supernumerary book this really is.

Derek Lundy is an (Anglo?-) Canadian attorney-turned-sailor-turned-author. He has some recreational blue water cruising experience. He is the most rabid Francophile I have ever come across (frankly, that alone would cost him a star with most reviewers). He describes GODFORSAKEN SEA as "the story of the Vendee Globe and Gerry Roufs" but it isn't. That's one of the problems with GODFORSAKEN SEA: Lundy isn't ever quite certain what this book is about, and so he hopscotches from one topic to another and back again like a frantic capuchin monkey.

If it were the story of Gerry Roufs (the only Canadian entrant in the 1996-97 Globe Vendee, and the only sailor to lose his life), GODFORSAKEN SEA would be a fine book. Lundy clearly identifies with Roufs, a (French-) Canadian attorney-turned sailor, rather like himself. Still, we find out relatively little about Roufs, his life, or his boat. Roufs may have disappeared in a gale, but he was a human being, never a cypher; he had a full life, which Lundy does poorly in reporting, and it's a shame, because GODFORSAKEN SEA could have been a fine memorial to the man.

Lundy's attempts to draw parallels between the squalls he's sailed through and the hundred foot waves and hurricane winds of the Southern Ocean are sincere attempts to identify with the solo circumnavigators of the Vendee on some level. They may seem silly but they're forgivable.

What isn't forgivable is Lundy's chaotic approach to the story.
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