Hello Sailor, By Michael Hutchinson

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The Independent Culture

Choosing a wink-wink, nudge-nudge title puts an author under pressure to deliver the laughs, but Michael Hutchinson rises to the occasion with ease in his tale of a chequered life before the mast.

He spent his childhood in Northern Ireland addictively messing about in boats before choosing a career in academia but he gave it up to become a professional cyclist. His excellent previous book, 'The Hour', chronicled with humour his attempt at one of cycling's most historic records, and this account of his return to his first love after 15 years is up to his very demanding scratch.

Crewing for anybody who'd have him, he raced around Britain and Europe for a year and he makes his exploits amusing even for those who don't know a bowline from a phone line, while making some pertinent points about the curious social structure yachting folk espouse.

The price for a 248-page paperback with large type seems rather excessive; but, as Hutchinson points out, sailing always has been an expensive business.

Published in paperback by Yellow Jersey, £12.99

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