The Fastnet Race is the world famous yacht race from the Isle of Wight to the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland and back. The race of 1979 began in perfect weather conditions but within 48 hours, the deadliest storm in the history of modern sailing struck off the south coast of Ireland. By the time it had passed, the havoc caused was immeasurable. Even more devastating, it had mercilessly taken the lives of fifteen sailors. It had been Nick Ward's childhood ambition to sail in the Fastnet Race, and after being asked to join the crew aboard the 30-foot yacht Grimalkin it was a dream come true. But then the storm hit.
Grimalkin was capsized again and again, the skipper was lost overboard and after hours of struggle, three of the crew decided to abandon the boat for the liferaft. Nick and his fellow crewmember Gerry, both injured and unconscious, were left on the beleaguered yacht in the middle of the Irish Sea. Both were presumed dead, and were taken off the priority list for rescue. Gerry died a few hours later, and Nick was left to face the storm alone.
Left for Dead is the tragic and inspirational story of Nick Ward's survival against all the odds. It is the story of an ordinary man who survived an extraordinary event. It was an experience which affected him so deeply that for over 25 years his story has remained untold - until now.
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A moving story beautifully told
The utter honestly of the author as he recounted an incredibly distressing moment in his life, and the great detail with which he recounted the story. Details, which to a fellow sailor and Fastnet race competitor such as myself, brought the story to life in a way in which no non-sailor could possibly hope to achieve.
I believe this is the best retelling of the greatest maritime disaster in an international race in the history of sailing that I have ever come across. This coupled with the incredibly sad story and the impeccable detail of Nick Ward made it a breathtaking novel. I would especially recommend this to anyone who has sailed in the Fastnet race, as I found that my own experience in this historic race further brought the story to life.
I haven't listened to one of his previous performances. However, his clarity of voice allowed me to enjoy the story fully, without being distracted by an annoying accent or by irregular breaks in the narrators performance, which to me is a crucial factor in whether or not I can enjoy the story.
I think it would be difficult not to react emotionally to this story. The seeming utter lack of hope, tied in with the sad demise of Nick's best friend and that of the skipper are truly saddening. This is made even more sad when you consider how far the author had to go to take part in this truly historic race.
- P. S. Clarke