Fatal Storm: The Inside Story of the Tragic Sydney-Hobart by Rob Mundle

By Rob Mundle

"Harrowing shoreside reading."­­Booklist

"Should be required interpreting for all ocean sailors."­­Library Journal

The first e-book to recount the disastrous occasions of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, Fatal Storm is certain to be a favored paperback choice. Rob Mundle takes readers via each white-knuckling hour of the gale that descended within the predawn hours of December 27, stretching over 900 miles from Australia to New Zealand, bringing with it storm power winds and five-story waves. In all, fifty seven sailors have been rescued, plucked from the decks of damaged boats or from the ocean itself lower than very unlikely stipulations. Six sailors died.

A Sydney-Hobart Race veteran himself, Rob Mundle had overall and unequaled entry to the folks at the back of the tale. the result's a story of maximum experience, striking will, and the overpowering emotional stories of survivors, rescuers, and the bereaved.

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Extra resources for Fatal Storm: The Inside Story of the Tragic Sydney-Hobart Race

Example text

She soon outgrew the sailing dinghy scene on Lake Macquarie, and leapt at the chance to join the crew of a small, Junior Offshore Group racer. Years later Julie Hodder would return to sailing in England in grand style – as the only female among a crew of 29 aboard the maxi yacht Condor for the Fastnet Race. That was 1981 – two years after the disastrous 1979 event that saw an Irish Sea gale take the lives of 15 sailors. “It was a wonderful life aboard the maxi for two great years. I really loved it.

Well, of course, the rest is history. Illingworth won by a day. We were still mooching down the Tassie coast when we heard that he had suddenly popped up in Storm Bay. When we got right up into the Derwent there was a tremendous north-westerly gale. It blew 74 knots and really knocked the fleet about. We had a triple reefed main, a jib and a mizzen. But within a quarter of a mile of the line the breeze suddenly dropped and the Derwent was as flat as a millpond. It wasn’t worth putting all that gear back on again so we just concentrated on getting across the finish.

In fact many of the 1998 Hobart fleet saw winds of around 70 knots – twice as strong as those on which Payne based his predictions. His calculations suggested three yachts would completely disappear, taking 22 people with them; six crew would be lost overboard; three life rafts containing 12 people would never be found and a rescue helicopter would crash while on a mission. It was apparent after the 1998 race that if it hadn’t been for the herculean rescue effort and the fact that much of the drama occurred in relatively close proximity to the south-east corner of the Australian mainland, Alan Payne’s predictions could well have come true.

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