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But the 1998 Syd-Hob was no party. Before the race, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning for 55-mile winds in Bass Strait, later upping the severity and describing approaching weather conditions as "atrocious." Atrocious proved an understatement. The first storm hit the fleet around midnight, causing many boats to turn and sail for home. At 2 p.m. on December 27, a rare phenomenon called a weather bomb hit Bass Strait, as three massive systems collided. Over the next 24 hours, mammoth waves of 90 feet and higher combined with 100 mph winds to batter the remaining boats. By the end of the day on December 29, the results were in: six lives lost, five boats sunk, many more boats--and sailors--seriously damaged.
In Knockdown, Martin Dugard captures the excitement--and horror--of the doomed race and its participants, though he does indulge in melodramatic foreshadowing at times. Dugard is quick to name heroes; he lays honors at the feet of the men and women of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for their valiant efforts in rescuing more than 50 sailors. He also praises Iain Moray and the crew of the Siena, who turned around to help save the crew of Stand Aside. Explaining his actions afterward, Moray said simply, "I certainly hope someone would do the same for me if I were in trouble."
Though Dugard raises important questions--Why are sailors willing to take such risks? Why didn't more turn back as the storm hit? Why didn't the race organizers call it off when the weather reports came in? Should the public be responsible for paying the $650,000 price tag for the sea rescues?--he provides few answers beyond platitudes, such as "The history of Syd-Hob is about storms as much as sailing" and the "brotherhood of the honor" of finishing the race. That said, Knockdown is compelling reading for those who like their adventure stories served raw. --Sunny Delaney
What these sailors endured is amazing. I can't believe race officials and/or the government wasn't better prepared for this eventuality. Read morePublished 10 months ago by TruxtonSpangler
Purchased for my 14 year old nephew. I have read this exciting book myself and really loved the action. Read morePublished on October 25, 2011 by Sheryl Hamblin
While I realise a lot of work went into this book, and I applaud Dugard for bringing it together, I have to confess I hated it. Read morePublished on May 3, 2004 by "charley123"
This was one of the most vivid, compelling reads I have had in some time. Dugard is a master of description. Read morePublished on November 14, 2003
I found Martin Dugard's account of the Sydney to Hobart race compelling and accurate. Not only did he thoroughly research the facts, but he gives us a heartfelt account that makes... Read morePublished on April 5, 2002 by Cathy
Knockdown was a briliantly written book that was so exiting I can almost place myself in Midnight Rambler, Buisness Post Niaad, Winston Churchill or many other boats so well... Read morePublished on October 29, 2001 by MacKenzie Wasson
Knockdown was a terribly written book. The author obviously knew nothing about sailing. His facts were totally incorect. Read morePublished on July 29, 2001
This is a book for sailors, non-sailors, adventurers, and everyone who enjoys a ripping yarn. Well-written, thoroughly researched, technical where necessary but otherwise written... Read morePublished on June 25, 2001