On August 11, 1979, 303 yachts began the 600-mile Fastnet Race from the Isle of Wight off the southwest coast of England to Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast and back. It began in fine weather, then suddenly became a terrifying ordeal. A Force 10, sixty-knot storm swept across the North Atlantic with a speed that confounded forecasters, slamming into the fleet with epic fury. For 20 hours, 2,500 men and women were smashed by forty-foot breaking waves, while rescue helicopters and lifeboats struggled to save them.

  By the time the race was over, fifteen people had died, twenty-four crews had abandoned ship, five yachts had sunk, 136 sailors had been rescued, and only 85 boats had finished the race. John Rousmaniere was there, and he tells the story as only one who has sailed through the teeth of a killer storm can. In a new introduction for this edition, he discusses the effects of the tragedy and whether it could happen again today.


A sailor for over forty years, JOHN ROUSMANIERE has more than 35,000 miles of blue water in his wake. He wrote the Annapolis Book of Seamanship, America’s best-selling sailing manual.

“ I’m dazzled by the book’s sure-footed handling of a complex narrative, with multiple points of view, all beautifully woven into a continuous and powerful story”

Jonathan Raban, editor, The Oxford Book of the Sea.

€14.99/£11.95/ $21.35

ISBN:978 393 30865 5
220 x 150mm 304pp
New Paperback Edition
Nautical History