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A Voyage for Madmen (2001)

by Peter Nichols

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5462143,442 (4.07)13
In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death. In this extraordinary book, Peter Nichols chronicles a contest of the individual against the sea, waged at a time before cell phones, satellite dishes, and electronic positioning systems. A Voyage for Madmen is a tale of sailors driven by their own dreams and demons, of horrific storms in the Southern Ocean, and of those riveting moments when a split-second decision means the difference between life and death.… (more)
  1. 10
    Gypsy Moth Circles the World by Francis Chichester (John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin (nandadevi, bluepiano)
    nandadevi: The story of the other sailors in this race
  3. 00
    The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Moitessier, who to me was the hero of the race, writes about his own voyage--'his own voyage' rather than 'about his part in the race' because the contest is in his book almost incidental.
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» See also 13 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
The first Golden Globe "race". Now the Vendee Globe. Dangerous sailing, largely under supervised and bare of requirements or rules. Much about the contestants including Donald Crowhurst.
  David-Block | Apr 7, 2023 |
Maybe the moment is overtaking me but this is one of the best books I have ever read. I did not plan to try to finish the entire book today but the power of it kept me turning the pages all morning and all afternoon. Peter Nichols tells a story of truly heroic and tragic proportions. Nine men attempting to race each other solo around the world without stopping something that had never been done before. Great care went into developing each of the nine sailors lived and ambitions. So extraordinary you will be with them on the voyage and read from the comfort of your chair the incredible hardships and isolation that few humans will ever endured sailing thousands of miles from land in the harshest conditions on the face of the earth. Without giving away any endings it is an experience that is truly life-changing for all nine. ( )
  kropferama | Jan 1, 2023 |
Fascinating story of round-the-world sailors back in about 1969 and how one guy faked it. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
I had heard of the race, obviously, and most of its protagonists, but I had never read the whole story. Glad I did. Well-written, interesting and full of insight into the world of solo-yachting and solo-yachting the world.
  Kindlegohome | Oct 22, 2022 |
I knew nothing about the (in)famous 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, but wow this book delivers. Not only a great story, with incredible characters, the author is master sailor who puts things in context. For example. he doesn't just say the boat "heaved too", he explains what it is, why it has fallen out of favor, why it was important in this race, etc.. you learn a lot about long-distance small-boat blue-ocean voyaging, technically and psychologically. It reminds me of long-distance lightweight hiking, or climbing rope-free, sports with a natural purity. If I remember anything it will be that every boat is unique, as is every captain, and storm - these complexities make it nearly impossible to prepare for every eventuality. A person can learn to sail their entire lives, yet still come across unexpected and deadly challenges. I suspect the most successful have the ability to be flexible and try new things without resorting to "rules", but also know when to play straight. Good life lessons generally. Anyway, super-impressed and hope to read some of the memoirs this book is based on. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Jun 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
A Voyage for Madmen is a book about boats and the sea, about wind and waves and frightening, lonely places. But more than that, it is about sad, heroic characters, and Nichols does characters like a novelist does.
added by nandadevi | editThe Guardian, Sam Wollaston (May 26, 2001)
 
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Epigraph
Everything can be found at sea,
according to the spirit of your quest.
-JOSEPH CONRAD
Dedication
To the memory of my father, Brayton C Nichols
For his sister, Cynthia Hartshorn
For my cousin, Matt deGarmo
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In 1966-1967, A 65-Year-Old Englishman, Francis Chichester, sailed alone around the world.
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In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death. In this extraordinary book, Peter Nichols chronicles a contest of the individual against the sea, waged at a time before cell phones, satellite dishes, and electronic positioning systems. A Voyage for Madmen is a tale of sailors driven by their own dreams and demons, of horrific storms in the Southern Ocean, and of those riveting moments when a split-second decision means the difference between life and death.

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