What most people remember about the first single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race is the fate of Donald Crowhurst, the weekend sailor from Somerset who became delusional and tried to fake his progress before vanishing, presumed to have jumped overboard.
But the story of Nigel Tetley, the forgotten man of the race, is equally tragic – his boat broke up and sank 1,000 miles from the finish as he pushed it beyond its limits while he was in the lead, under the impression Crowhurst was closing on him. Two years later he, too, died in unexplained circumstances.
Of the nine entrants, only Robin Knox-Johnston finished. This reappraisal of the race coincides with the 40th anniversary of his victory. Chris Eakin tracked down everyone still alive who was involved, and one strand of the story that emerges is the staggering level of under-preparation; for most competitors it was a race too soon, as well as too far, as they struggled to meet the starting deadline. A cautionary tale of peril on the sea, and one told very well.
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