Customer Reviews


106 Reviews
5 star:
 (56)
4 star:
 (37)
3 star:
 (12)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea Story
As an experienced offshore sailor, I found Knecht's book absolutely riveting. He sets out to examine why it is that already highly-successful people (who don't necessarily have anything to prove) are tempted to put their lives at stake competing in a yacht race. He then goes on to describe and examine what went wrong, and why. He deals with the meteorology, the nature...
Published on May 23, 2001 by Guy Nowell

versus
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but not the best version I have read
This is a tough review to write for several reasons.
I love the sea, I love stories about the sea. I also competed in the 98' Hobart race on a 34 foot yacht. All of the books about this event do their best to describe the extent of what happened. If you read any of the books about this race and find yourself thinking that 'no way could it have been that bad - they...
Published on April 8, 2002


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea Story, May 23, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
As an experienced offshore sailor, I found Knecht's book absolutely riveting. He sets out to examine why it is that already highly-successful people (who don't necessarily have anything to prove) are tempted to put their lives at stake competing in a yacht race. He then goes on to describe and examine what went wrong, and why. He deals with the meteorology, the nature of the yachts, the personalities of the crews, and their reactions to severe stress and, in some cases, disaster.
Offshore sailors know why we do it anyway: racing yachts is exciting and challenging. Knecht reports impartially on the attitudes and judgement capacities of those he interviewed. He asks all the right questions, and passes no judgement on the answers. He does not attempt to draw conclusions, and makes no recommendations. He reports, and well.
Non-sailors will enjoy this book because it is so damn exciting. They will be amazed - maybe horrified as well as stirred - at some of the characters and events described.
Sailors will enjoy it too, recognising events and personalities that we have all seen before, but maybe on a less extreme scale and under less extreme circumstances. Sailors SHOULD read this book because it will give them a better understanding of the well-worn maxim that "what CAN go wrong sooner or later WILL go wrong". Then they may be better prepared for that awful event, but it still won't stop them going to sea!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea stories and Yacht Racers, June 18, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
This book should appeal mostly to people who like rollicking good sea stories and also to yacht racers who want and need to get a better understanding of the terrible tragedy that was the '98 Sidney Hobart Race.
For the sea story lovers, this book is much better than "The Perfect Storm" by Sebastian Junger because a sea story (or any story for that matter) should have a begining, a middle and an ending. "The Perfect Storm" had a good beginning, a better middle but no ending. No one knows what heroism kept the Anita Gayle afloat and what cowardice or misfortune caused her to sink. Fortunately, in the '98 Sidney-Hobart race there were enough survivors to tell the story from beginning to end and author Bruce Knecht has recorded the stories in a very readable account. Yacht racing terms have been defined for the uniniated but not to the point of being pedantic. This is a most interesting account of the behavior of people under tremendous stress.
For the yacht racers, Bruce Knecht has chosen to focus primarily on 3 boats. The first, a heavy, conservative cruising boat (Winston Churchill) which sank before encountering the height of the storm. The second, a 15 year old IOR design boat (Sword of Orion) which was rolled and was literally coming apart at the seams but which provided a floating refuge until the crew could be rescued. And third, a modern light weight boat (Syonara)which, although suffering structural damage and delaminations, went on to finish (and win)the race. "The Proving Ground" is a good companion book to Rob Mundle's "Fatal Storm" which is a broader over view of the whole race but which lacks the depth and insight of "The Proving Ground". I have often wondered if "The Checkbook", "The Rock Star", and "The Hired Hand" could pull their weight "out there" if it got really nasty. Well, this book answers those questions and you might be a little surprised at the answers. This book is no "Fastnet Force 10" but it comes close.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a gripping read!!!, June 18, 2001
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
I read The Proving Ground in one night ... I just couldn't put it down. And I didn't mind that I was exhausted from lack of sleep the next day because I so enjoyed the read. Bruce Knecht not only has written a detailed account of the horrific experiences of the yachtsmen on three boats in the Sydney-Hobart race, but he has captured what it was like for the sailors to endure the ordeal ... the fear, the heroic sacrifices, the physical endurance, and the struggle over having to make decisions that could result in fatal errors (which some did).
As an experienced ocean sailor, I can say that Mr. Knecht has done an excellent job of portraying life at sea on a racing boat, without getting overly technical. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a gripping adventure story with characters who are both heroic and flawed, and for the men who died, are also all too real.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but not the best version I have read, April 8, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
This is a tough review to write for several reasons.
I love the sea, I love stories about the sea. I also competed in the 98' Hobart race on a 34 foot yacht. All of the books about this event do their best to describe the extent of what happened. If you read any of the books about this race and find yourself thinking that 'no way could it have been that bad - they must have been halucinating'... then I promise you that you are wrong. It was that bad. It was the most horrendous thing I have ever gone though in my entire life.
All of the three books about the race which I have bought have photos of some of the waves - and the damage done to some of the yachts. Bear in mind that these photos were almost entirely taken the day AFTER the night of the 27th. The worst part of the storm came over our yacht from about 8 pm until 3 am the next morning. I promise you it was a very very long 7 hours. By the time the photos were taken, I reckon the seas would have died down by at least 35 - 40%. I can remember holding on to the side-rails at one point during the peak of the storm, looking up and seeing waves above the top of the mast... on both sides of the yacht. Our wind guage read to 80 knots. The needle was off the end of the gauge for a hell of a long time.
Having said that, it took almost a full year before I would race offshore again. I am going back for this year's race. There is some unfinished business that I have with the Bass Strait - and I want to get to Hobart for the infamous "Quiet little drink". Hobart races are hard, that's quite frankly is the whole point. Without the challenge, nobody would go.This literary version of the race is good - don't get me wrong, but I firmly believe that Rob Mundle's "Fatal Storm" will in years to come be regarded as the definative text of the tragedy which played out in front of us. Knecht's book is good, however the Mundle book sent shivers down my spine as the memories it generated replayed themselves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How real people behave under stress, July 24, 2001
By 
angus roxburgh (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
Having competed in 7 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races including the similar 1993 race and, knowing many of the central characters in the book, this was an exciting and telling account of what faced the competitors in the 1998 race. Bruce's story is fantastic; it not only gives the reader a feel for the conditions but also for the characters of the people who were central to the story.
The most interesting aspect for me was seeing that what I had learnt about myself and my fellow crewmates in the 1993 race rings loud and true. In a situation such as the Hobart Race, decisions that are made not only determine the outcome of the race but can also save or lose lives. If you have the slightest doubt about your own capabilities and experience and, most importantly, the capabilities and experience of your fellow crew mates, don't put to sea!
Its those little cracks and flaws in character that you sense about someone that, under extreme stress, can result in disaster.
The book also highlights four situations where four individuals could have changed the outcome for their boat by speaking out against a clearly wrong decision but did not. Unfortunately in two of these situations, lives were lost that could have been saved and in the third, reputations and names have been destroyed forever.
While the setting is a yacht race, its really a story about the behavior of people under extreme stress.
Reality TV: Forget it! This is real.
Hollywood; If you make this into a movie, do us a favour and do a better job than Wind, The Perfect Storm and Water World.
This story deserves better!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WALTER CRONKITE IS RIGHT!, June 2, 2001
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
This is the best book on sailing ever written. But it's so much more. The story is so griping that I read it in one evening. What the author does best is geve you a great sense of why in the world anyone would do something as insane as enter this race. Its as much a human interest story as a sailing epic- Incredible
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unforgiving Sea, May 1, 2002
By 
sweetmolly (RICHMOND, VA USA) - See all my reviews
The 1998 challenging Sydney to Hobart offshore race turned into the worst sailing disaster in history. Mr. Knecht has written a highly personal yet unbiased account, focusing on four boats, their skippers and crew plus some rescuers and meteorologists. Six sailors were killed, 55 had to be plucked from the raging sea by rescuers, and of the 115 boats that began the race, only 43 finished-many of them barely afloat.
"The Proving Ground" does an excellent job of giving us some detailed answers as to "What Happened?" How could experienced yachtsmen expose themselves, their crew and their boats to a full-fledged hurricane at sea? In this age of technology, were there not forecasts and why were the boats not seaworthy? There is blame enough to go around. The weather forecasts were, to put it kindly, confusing. First "gale" warnings were issued, then "storm" warnings. Which sounds more ominous to you? In forecasting terminology, "storm" is the more dangerous condition. Almost all the crews took the opposite meaning, i.e., that a "gale" was worse than a "storm," as I believe 99% of the general population would. Offshore racers are built for speed, not endurance. After reading this book, I decided these fragile, complex sailboats are accidents waiting to happen. I was in awe of the skill, quick reflexes and cooperation displayed by the crews. There was a high level of seamanship in almost all of the contenders. Only one sailor mentioned, a wealthy domineering man, displayed abject cowardice and only one boat that clearly refused to come to the aid of another desperately crippled contender.
"The Proving Ground" is intensely exciting---I read it in one very late night sitting. Mr. Knecht postponed publishing long enough to get the inquest results and some later reflections from the people he interviewed so well. Though he did a meticulous job on the four boats and crews the book spotlights, the other contestants and two sailors who lost their lives were hardly mentioned. I realize the narrow focus heightened the intensity of the book; however, a little more general information would be welcome. "The Proving Ground" is a highly knowledgeable, readable book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone who knows, June 4, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
Having competed in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart, I can reccomend this book, for anyone who wants to find out what it was like. The book captures the essence of the Hobart Race, the friendships that develop between those who sail together, the reason people return to the race and to the helplessness that you feel in such a big sea. Not only is this book a great read, it is also an accurate depiction of what happened.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Proven Book!, July 24, 2002
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
The Proving Ground is not just a page-turner, or a sailing story, or a gripping tale of man against nature -- it is all of those things and more. This is a well-written account of the tragic 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race. While Bruce Knecht's skills and experience as a journalist are evident in the crisp, detailed writing, the story flows with the ease of a good novel, and is infused with a passionate insight into blue-water sailing. If you love sailing, or the ocean, or just great writing, this is a must-read book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proven Winner, May 23, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race (Hardcover)
I recently received a review copy of the The Proving Ground and though it hasn't been released in Asia I would like to submit my comments about the book...
Excellent book... I finished it at 3am this morning as I just couldn't put it down. What I particularly liked was the way Knecht managed to handle the sensitive issues of personality and human frailty, without becoming too emotional or morbid. He also managed to write so that both the experienced yachtman and the novice can get something out of this book.
Knecht writes in an objective manner but still manages to produce his book an engrossing read...One of the best sailing/adventure books I have read in a long time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Proving Ground : The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.