Cover image for Godforsaken sea : racing the world's most dangerous waters
Godforsaken sea : racing the world's most dangerous waters
Lundy, Derek, 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxv, 272 pages ; 24 cm
Conference Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV832 .L86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV832 .L86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Godforsaken Sea is the hair-raising account of the world's most demanding, dangerous, and deadly sailing race. Around the world, one sailor, one boat, no stops, no assistance.

Author Derek Lundy's vivid book follows the field of the 1996 - 1997 Vendee Globe through the race's grueling four-month circumnavigation of the globe, most of it through the terror of the Southern Ocean.

Lundy narrates the race through the eyes and experiences of sixteen sailors - fourteen men and two women - who embdoy the best and most eccentric aspects of our human condition. There's the gallant Brit who spends days beating back against the worst seas to save a fellow sailor; the Frenchman who bothers to salvage only a bottle of champagne from his broken and sinking boat; the sailor who comes to love the albatross that trails her for months, naming it Bernard; the sailor who calmly smokes a cigarette as his boat capsizes; and the Canadian who, hours before he disappears forever, dispatches this message:

If you drag things out too long here, you're sure to come to grief.

With the literary touch of Saint-Exupery and Conrad, Derek Lundy harnesses hurricane-force winds, six story waves, icebergs, and deafening noise. And he lays bare the spirit of the men and women who push themselves to the outer limits of human endeavor - even if it means never returning home.

Author Notes

Derek Lundy is an experienced amateur sailor. A lawyer by training and a writer by profession, he is the author of Scott Turow: Meeting the Enemy.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

On November 3, 1996, the 16 solo sailboat racers of the third Vende Globe contest left the little French port of Les Sables dOlonne for a four-month round trip whose most trying feature would be a circumnavigation of Antarctica. Lundy, an experienced amateur sailor, followed the race on its Web site, on which the race organizers provided regular updates and on which some of the sailors posted bulletins. From the beginning, its obvious that the competitors are a bit more committed than your average weekend sailor. They hire sleep specialists to determine their personal best-sleep periods so theyll know when to put their boats on automatic pilot for a quick catnap. One sailor, Pete Goss, took a scalpel to his inflamed elbow, following a doctors faxed instructions while his boat heeled and all his instruments slid off their tray (so now Im frothing at the mouth, and it was quite funny, really). As Lundy describes these sailors encounters with the raging southern ocean and waves like a never-ending series of five- or six-story buildings... moving towards [the boat] at about forty miles an hour, readers will get caught up in the race and in the fates of the 16 racers. Despite all the excitement, the book has a buffered feel. Quite simply, Lundy wasnt there. Its a measure of his skill, then, that he manages to make the action as palpable as he does, lacing his report of the race with a little maritime history, ocean science and allusions to the likes of Conrad and Joyce. This literate adventure book was a bestseller in Canada. $50,000 ad/promo; BOMC selection; author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

The Vendee Globe is the only solo, around-the-world sailing race that is not in legs and that disqualifies entrants from either receiving assistance or going ashore. The section of the race circling Antarctica, however, is what makes the Vendee the world's most difficult sailing competition. In the ship-swallowing southern seas, Vendee skippers confront a six-to eight-week near-constant onslaught of hurricane conditions. Skippers go days without sleep, enduring brain-scattering storm racket, frequent capsizing, and a steady stream of concussive 50-foot waves. Amazingly, Vendee boats are designed to surf these colossal walls of water, as well as to right themselves when their masts dip over and touch the ocean's surface. Centering on the tragic 1996^-97 Vendee Globe, Lundy goes deep inside every aspect of this elite, French-dominated sport. Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997) showed the potential demand for well-written adventure-sport accounts; expect this title to generate similar interest. --Dane Carr

Library Journal Review

Freezing temperatures, poor visibility, icebergs, and sleep deprivation challenge the sailors who participate in the Vendee Globe sailing race. A suspenseful account of the rigors that tested the crew, and a look at the personalities and motivations of those involved. (Sept.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Arguably the most extreme sporting activity of any kind, the Vendee Globe is the "Everest of sailing races." In this four-month, single-handed circumnavigation, the competitors follow a hazardous route down through the Atlantic to the bottom of the world, around Antarctica, and back again. In the "godforsaken" Southern Sea, it is difficult just to survive, let alone race. In continuous gales unimpeded by land masses, hurricane-force winds whip up waves several stories tall. Freezing temperatures, poor visibility, icebergs, and sleep deprivation compound the challenge to the sailors, who hurtle through these waters at top speeds in lightweight 60-foot boats. To stay in the race, competitors must not accept help with repairs or stop for supplies. Lundy relates the suspenseful tale of the 1996-97 race, in which there were a string of disasters, several thrilling rescues, and one competitor lost at sea. Radical new boat designs were put to the test and humans were pushed beyond what would seem possible (one even performed emergency surgery upon himself). The author writes with such skill that even non-sailors will appreciate the conditions and feats he describes. He is equally adept at showing the personalities, motivations, and gifts of the men and women drawn to this challenge, and brings these unusual individuals to life. Musing on the meaning of it all, Lundy extends the perspective beyond the world of sports, and gives readers plenty to think about. This fine work of journalism should have broad and strong appeal.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



In the Seas Entrall an excerpt from Chapter One of Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters by Derek Lundy In early January 1997, thirteen Vend,e Globe solo sailors were strung out across six thousand miles of the Southern Ocean, stretching from south of Australia almost to Cape Horn. The sailors had already been at sea for more than two months. Of the sixteen starters, only ten were still officially in the race. Three more kept sailing but had been disqualified for stopping in one port or another along the way to make repairs to their boats-strictly prohibited by the race rules. Dinelli had been sailing as an unofficial entrant because he hadn't had time to make the two-thousand-mile sail required to qualify for the Vend,e Globe. Two racers had withdrawn soon after the start on November 3 of the previous year because of damage suffered in a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Deep in the Southern Ocean, the skippers had lived for weeks in wet foul-weather gear in cold cabins dripping with condensation or wet with seawater that found a way in. The widely spaced boats were dealing with various weather conditions, none of them pleasant. At best, some were running uncomfortably, but not dangerously, before the gale-force depressions that travel unceasingly across the high southern latitudes. For other boats, there wasn't enough wind to enable them to handle the sea conditions-big seas persist for some time after the weather that created them has moderated. The boats were faltering in waves that struck anarchically from all directions without the governing discipline of strong wind. Other skippers found themselves in particularly severe low-pressure systems-storms that made our Virgin Islands "yachtsman's gale" seem like the briefest and most benign of squalls. They were struggling to control their boats as they surfed at breakneck speeds of twenty-five knots or more down waves like steep hills in winds of near-hurricane strength. In just those conditions, during the night of January 4, two of the sixty-foot-long Vend,e Globe boats capsized. They were sailing fourteen hundred miles southwest of the Australian Cape Leeuwin at about fifty-one degrees south latitude-just inside the border of the furious fifties. The boats were within forty miles of each other, near the back of the strung-out fleet. Aboard Exide Challenger (a sophisticated ketch-a two-masted rig), Tony Bullimore heard a loud bang. He could hear it even over the shrill tumult of his boat's rush through the storm. The carbon-fiber keel, fatally fatigued by the boat's unending motion, had suddenly snapped off, plunging down to the ocean floor-in this sea area, the relatively shallow southeast Indian Ridge, five hundred fathoms down. Suddenly deprived of its four and a half tons of ballast, the now top-heavy boat flipped over with shocking speed-two or three seconds. Just before it happened, the fifty-seven-year-old Bullimore had been standing wedged in his cabin, drinking a mug of tea he'd managed to brew up on his gimballed one-burner stove and smoking one of his roll-your-own cigarettes. As the boat flipped, he rolled around with it and found himself standing on the cabin top, which was now the floor. The abruptness of the event astonished him. He looked down through the big cabin windows, which were now acting as the bottom of the hull, and saw seawater rushing past, like a fast-flowing river under his feet. The howl of the wind passing at seventy knots around the boat's two masts and rigging had stopped. In fact, it was almost quiet-although the boat was still rocking and rolling. His mug of tea had disappeared, but he still had his cigarette in hand. He stood on the inside cabin top of his upside-down boat, took a few draws on the cigarette, and phlegmatically considered the situation. There wasn't much he could do, he thought. He went through the pluses and minuses of his position, trying to think through how he could survive. He had to try to get an EPIRB signal out to the world. Maybe he could use his tools to cut a hole in the hull. He became aware of the boat's heavy boom, mixed up with the tangle of mast and rigging below the boat. Swinging around in the underwater turbulence, it was tapping on one of the big cabin windows. Suddenly, in one violent lurch, the boom smashed the window. The sea roared in like Niagara Falls. The electric lights, which had stayed on since the capsize, now went dead. Within seconds, the dark cabin filled with water whose temperature was close to zero degrees Celsius, leaving only a few feet of air near the top, which was really the cabin floor. Bullimore quickly became very cold. He waded through the chest-high water, found his survival suit, stripped off his foul-weather gear-which only protected him from rain, spray, and the occasional breaking wave-and managed to pull the suit on over his cold and sodden underclothes. The insulated waterproof survival suit was designed to stave off hypothermia, but it was a model that left his hands and feet exposed, and all he could do was stuff his already frozen feet back into his soaked seaboots. His food and drinking water were gone, except for some chocolate and several tiny sachets of water-a cup or so. Like most of the equipment in the cabin, his food and water had been sucked out through the smashed window by the powerful vacuum of departing waves. There was no need now to cut a hole in the hull to release an EPIRB signal; the boom had done it for him. He activated one of his ARGOS-type EPIRBs and tied it to a piece of line. (The ARGOS position transmitter became an EPIRB when switched to alarm mode.) Plunging down into the freezing water in the cabin, he pushed it through the broken window and floated it up to what he hoped was the surface of the sea, but it could easily have become entangled in the mess of rigging and debris outside. Bullimore wasn't sure that his distress transmission was in fact getting out. Whether Exide Challenger would stay afloat depended on his watertight bulkheads, in particular on the forward bulkhead, which was keeping water out of the boat's bow section. In case they didn't hold, he needed his life raft, which was secured in the cockpit. Several times, his eyes and ears seared by the cold, he dove down and through the companionway hatch to cut it free. But it was too bulky to move, pinned against the bottom of the inverted cockpit by its own buoyancy. On his last dive, the hatch was caught by a surge of wave water and slammed shut on his hand. It chopped off his left index finger at the lower knuckle. In the icy water, the stub soon stopped bleeding and the cold numbed the fiery pain. Bullimore crawled onto a narrow shelf high up under his new ceiling, where it was relatively dry for now. But the water was rising and it soon began to wash over him periodically in this last refuge. He felt desperately cold and tired. He knew that the Australians were his best hope for rescue, but it would take them at least four or five days to get to him. That is, if the EPIRB had made it to the surface-if its signal was getting through to anyone at all. Copyright (c) 1999 by Derek Lundy. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters by Derek Lundy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. xii
The Vendee Globe 1996-97p. xv
Prologuep. xvii
1 In the Seas Entrallp. 1
2 A Solitude Supremep. 20
3 The Baths of All the Western Starsp. 29
4 Sea Dark, Sky Cryingp. 63
5 To the Great Southp. 81
6 A New Machinep. 108
7 The Tiger Heartp. 127
8 A Spectacle for the Godsp. 149
9 A Zone Unknownp. 177
10 Remotest and Most Savage Seasp. 197
11 The Wounded Surgeonp. 224
12 The Sombre Seasonp. 235
Epiloguep. 265
Acknowledgmentsp. 269