AGAINST ALL ODDS by Alan Nebauer


Around Alone in the BOC Challenge
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 An exceedingly deadpan account of a challenge race, an entire circumnavigation of the globe, from a professional (and impoverished) Australian sailor. The BOC Challenge is the longest sailing race for an individual: 27,000 nautical miles, in four stages. In September 1994, Nebauer and 19 other competitors sailed out of Charleston Harbor, S.C., and took anywhere from 121 to 223 days (not counting layovers) before they saw the lights of Charleston again. Nebauer sets the tone of his narrative early: ``I was determined simply to do my best.'' He's a no-bluster type, never suggesting that he'd like to whip his opponents' collective butt or burn the course for a new record. He was, he says, simply happy to ``push on, trimming sails and keeping the boat at its peak.'' But this was not to be a cakewalk. His alternators died, forcing him to landfall; water ruined his computer, leaving him unable to receive weather and fleet updates, or news from home; screaming winds, high seas, and rogue waves dismasted him and tore off his rudder--both profoundly dangerous events. Others might have panicked or given up, but Nebauer stays almost too steady: He ``put his plans for the jury rigging to God'' and waxes stoically that ``we were determined to finish what we started.'' What enlivens the tale are Nebauer's evocative descriptions of the spectacular weather that rolls over him, and his comfortable use of sailing argot: beam winds and rhumb lines, third reef points, luff grooves, and flaking genoas. After 181 days at sea, after all the adversity and exhaustion, after so much sheer terror, Nebauer finished in the middle of the pack, won two medals for seamanship (one for saving the life of a fellow competitor), and found energy to note that he looked forward ``to the possibility of taking up the challenge again.'' Taciturn and terse, he is true to form to the last. (60 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-07-470331-5
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997