Saturday, July 9, 2011

Race Against Time (Ellen McArthur)

Even long before I took a keen interest in sailing, Dame Ellen McArthur had always been one of my role models. She is one of very few women out there who lead a truly inspiring life, and her extraordinary bravery seems to know no limits. Her first book Taking on the World was a wonderfully inspiring account of the first few years of her career as a professional sailor, and recounted in a very moving way her teenage years and how she had come up to sailing. I came across that book at a particular period of my life where, having just relocated to a different country, it resonated in me in so many ways that it left me a very long lasting impression; to this day, I still consider it as one of the most inspirational books I have read. Race Against Time is (unfortunately, I should add) an entirely different style of book altogether. I was expecting a little bit more distance and reflection on the profound human experience that undertaking a solo round the world race must be, and instead was faced with a rather dull, groundhog-day-like account of an otherwise epic voyage. Most of the text in the book was lifted from Dame Ellen’s logbooks and email communications during the race, and consists essentially of a collection of bad storms, mechanical failures, worse storms and even more spectacular mechanical failures, which very much contributes to making the written material dry and a bit too devoid of emotion for my liking. This is not the kind of book that will transport you away from your armchair, rather it will make you sink into it in a deep snooze… but to be fair it contains some truly impressive pictures of the southern ocean’s fury which will inspire the fear of god in even the most unadventurous landlubber. A good book to borrow and flip through, rather than to buy and keep.

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