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on 14 June 2007
When a friend advised me to read this, I thought, "Why would I want to read that? I have no interest in sailing." Thankfully, my friend insisted.

The narrative is beautifully weighted with the perfect amount of detail, both biographical and concenring the Fastnet Race itself. Not only did I learn a great deal about this tragic race, but I also started to really root for the author and genuinely felt his desparation as hopes were raised and dashed.

The descriptive passage of the gathering storm and the growing fears in the crew of the Grimalkin is one of the most tense and gripping passages I have read in some time, particularly the vivid imagery of the ever changing colours of the sky and the ominous threat of the Irish Sea.

I would, as my friend did, insist that you read this book and then insist that all of your friends do the same.
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on 19 May 2017
Coming to on a storm ravaged sea with a dying crewmate, you can almost taste the salt spray and feel his emotional trauma as he wrestles to save a sinking yacht, alone in a Force 10 storm.

Brilliantly engaging, chilling and horrifically scary in equal measures, this is a harrowing tale in which the suddenness of the storm appearing is recreated by the genial writing up to the impact point.

The author is finally able to lay ghosts to rest, 30 years after the incident, while taking the reader to the very heart of the drama.

An incredible guy with an unbelievable story.
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on 25 November 2007
Firstly, I just don't read books - they rarely keep my attention after the first chapter, and my shelves are littered with bookmarks sticking out from uncompleted attempts! And I've never had an interest in sailing. But I heard about this book and became more and more interested in how an ordinary guy got involved in such a prestigious but ultimately tragic race, and I wanted to know more about his eventual rescue and the hints of betrayal. I coped with the scene setting of the early chapters; in fact they surprised me by being very readable indeed. But once the race was underway Nick's excitement really came bubbling through, only to turn to nervousness and then, as the weather deteriorated, fear. Eventually, alone on the yacht except for the body of his friend, his desperation turns to near madness; but the reader is there alongside him, willing him on, sharing his deepest thoughts and feeling his desolation. An absolutely compelling read which I completed from cover to cover in record time! An adventure, and a poignant story of trust, fortitude and endurance... and, although Nick takes care to put himself in the place of his crewmates and not to be accusative, yes, betrayal. For those who may be put off by their lack of interest or knowledge in sailing, don't be... OK, there is a certain amount of technical terminology but if I coped, anyone can, and there is a reference diagram in case the reader wishes to learn a little more. A selection of Nick's personal photos adds further interest to this highly recommended book.
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on 15 April 2017
Great read
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on 3 March 2015
Read this book while sitting in front of a good log fire, warm and cosy. An amazing story of the sea and its people.
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on 12 October 2017
Excellently written and recounted description of that infamous sailing disaster.
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on 29 October 2017
Riveting true story - back up the read with the YouTube version.
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on 10 March 2017
Excellent read! Loved it
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on 11 July 2007
The first book in a long time that I simply couldn't put down.

The descriptions of wild seas are better than accurate - they actually take you there.

If you have been out to sea, it will take you right back there. It describes perfectly the way it can change in the course of minutes and how stomach clenchingly terrifying it can be.

Of course, Mr Ward has been in a situation that, thankfully, few of us have ever - or ever will be - in.

This, however, is more than simply a description of scary seas and "rough weather". It is about survival against the odds and a captivating hour by hour narrative of a harrowing story.

In summary, an excellent and gripping story with the most vivid descriptive passages I have read in many a year. Buy it!
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on 10 February 2017
Left For Dead

Nick Ward's first hand account of the disastrous Fastnet Race in August 1979 is a compelling drama. I'm not involved with the world of sailing, but his narrative is a real backdrop for any lay reader to the horrific circumstances of that race.

His description of the yacht, skipper and crew in the early chapters really sets the scene. I had a genuine sense of the people involved, their role and the challenging nature of the race itself. But that's just a taster for the genuinely harrowing events that unfold. Nick Ward writes with conviction about what he saw, felt and experienced. I found it easy to visualise the amazing, but very unusual sky and colours immediately before the weather conditions deteriorated. From that point, the narrative is almost too much to bear. He describes seas with waves in excess of 60 feet and the effect on a small yacht. At points, the pace is so fat, my stomach almost literally lurched as the power of the ocean toyed with the vessel. The passages where Gerry is used as a sounding board, for good and bad, are incredibly moving and powerful and a testament to survival and dignity.

I read a lot of non fiction about many subjects; this is definitely one of the best I've ever read in some 50+ years. It's measured, but intense, personal but incredibly dispassionate and so honest. If I ever had the chance to share a dinner table with someone Unknown, Nick Ward would be top of the list.
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