Summary and book reviews of The Proving Ground by G Bruce Knecht

The Proving Ground

The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race

by G Bruce Knecht

The Proving Ground
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2001, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2002, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A page-turner of the highest order, The Proving Ground is more than one of the most exciting adventure stories written in years. It is also an incisive look at the forces that continue to draw men who have triumphed on land to risk everything at sea.

The worst disaster in recent ocean racing history began the day after Christmas 1998 on a postcard-perfect summer day in Sydney Harbor. One hundred fifteen yachts gathered for the start of a 630-mile race that would take them across one of the world's most treacherous bodies of water and on to Hobart, on Tasmania's rugged east coast. The December sky was a brilliant blue, and spectators crowded along the shore to cheer as the boats set off. Less than twenty-four hours later, the fleet would be shredded by hurricane-force winds and battered by eighty-foot waves. When it was all over, men would be dead, boats would be lost, and those who survived would be forever changed.

The Proving Ground is the gripping account of what happened, focusing on three yachts, with a cast of characters straight out of a novel. There was Sayonara, owned by Larry Ellison, the world's second-richest man and a restless soul with an almost pathological need to win. His crew included Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert's heir apparent, a twenty-seven-year-old with an inexplicable taste for danger. On the Sword of Orion, a pharmacist-entrepreneur hoped to fulfill a childhood dream even though it would require him to make a sudden leap from sailing novice to grand prix yachtsman -- a leap that would end in disaster. On the Winston Churchill, a classic wooden yacht that had competed in the very first Sydney-to-Hobart Race fifty-three years earlier, the crew included a nineteen-year-old whose friends called him Beaver, an investment banker, and a garbage collector. Before the race was over, the Winston Churchill would be no more.

A page-turner of the highest order, The Proving Ground is more than one of the most exciting adventure stories written in years. It is also an incisive look at the forces that continue to draw men who have triumphed on land to risk everything at sea.

PROLOGUE

LARRY ELLISON was lying in his bunk, calculating the likelihood that he would die.

He was, thanks to his stock in his company, Oracle, one of the wealthiest men in the world. But right now, he was seasick and miserable, and the NASDAQ seemed very far away.

One day earlier, he had seen what was coming. Looking at one of the two laptop computers used on his boat, he saw a satellite-generated image of a cyclone--like cloud pattern. Gripped with the same surreal feeling of disconnectedness he sometimes had when he was flying a plane on instruments, he asked Mark Rudiger, the yacht's navigator, "Have you ever seen anything like this?"

Almost imperceptibly, Rudiger shook his head.

"Well, I have," Ellison declared, his voice rising in bewildered outrage. "It was on the Weather Channel -- and it was called Hurricane Helen. What the f--k is that doing here?". Ellison's yacht Sayonara had been struggling ever since. Steep forty-foot waves were sucking Sayonara up ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

An account of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race debacle.... While the disaster makes for some spellbinding reading, Knecht's treatment of what prompted the sailors to take to the seas not only falls short, it falls prey to their macho swagger.

Library Journal

He effectively evokes the terror, disappointment, and hopelessness of sailors whose boat has been shattered beneath them and the intense stress affecting the participants of a three-day marathon. Recommended for sports and sailing collections or for audiences who liked The Perfect Storm.

Publishers Weekly

This gripping, horrific page-turner could be essential summer beach reading.

Author Blurb Walter Cronkite
...a sailing masterpiece. His incredibly detailed research...makes for a tale more thrilling than fiction. The book is in the can't put it down category...The Perfect Storm of blue water sailboat racing.

Reader Reviews

Andre Bourque

Proving Ground
Excellent book, hard to put down. Really makes you think and imagine what it would be like in a situation such as this true story.

David

An excellent account of an amazing race. If your holiday is longer than 2 days you'll need another book!

Steve S.

What an excellent book. As an avid sailor myself, I found it almost impossible to put this book down.
I really felt that I was part of this race and felt the suffering of the various crews. It is a must read.

Jonathan

What a great book, anybody that likes a story about sailing should read this book!!!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Proving Ground, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket
    In the Country of Men
    by Hisham Matar
    Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some ...
  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.