In August of 1979, Nick Ward began the six-hundred-mile course of the UK's Fastnet Race with perfect weather. Within forty-eight hours, the deadliest storm in the history of modern sailing had blasted through the Irish Sea, throwing one of the world's most prestigious races into bedlam and taking the lives of fifteen sailors. Ward's boat, Grimalkin, was capsized again and again, and the skipper lost overboard; after hours of struggle, three of the crew fled the boat for the liferaft, and Nick was left alone to face down a storm that has become legendary among sailors and racing fans alike. Left for Dead is Nick Ward's harrowing and inspirational memoir of how he survived that dreadful night-the untold true story of an accident that has intrigued lovers of the sea for almost thirty years.
Raised in the 1960s in the village of Hamble on England's south coast, Ward was given sailing lessons by his father by the age of four and quickly grew to love the water. Given that Hamble was near the launching point for a 600-mile race called Fastnet, it's little surprise that come August of 1979 Ward leaped at the opportunity to take part. He describes the race, which killed 15 racers and sank five boats. He tells of what happened when his craft, the Grimalkin, got caught in a vicious storm that blew in across the Atlantic and caught the racing boats in the Irish Sea. The 50-foot waves and 80-knot winds capsized many boats, including his own, which was abandoned by most of its crew. Remaining on board was a dead shipmate and Ward, who tried to maintain his sanity as the storm raged on. That Ward, who had suffered a brain hemorrhage as a teenager and was taking antiseizure medication, survived such a devastating storm at all is something near miraculous. Unfortunately, with the exception of some exuberantly rhapsodic passages near the start on his love for the art of sailing, Ward's book (written with documentary filmmaker O'Brien) is a stiff affair.