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The Proving Ground

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  486 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Coolness under extreme pressure marks not only the subject of Wall Street Journal correspondent Knecht's highly praised book about the ill-fated 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race but also its writing and reading. Knecht, a sailor as well as a journalist, uses good journalism and novelistic flourishes to tell the story of one of the worst disasters in modern yachting history ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by AmazonEncore (first published 2001)
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I truly have mixed emotions about The Proving Ground, G. Bruce Knechts true life account of the disastrous 1998, 630 mile Sydney, Australia to Hobart yacht race. Some have compared this book to The Perfect Storm, but aside from the basic scenario of man versus the treacherous whims of Mother Nature there is really no comparison. While the men of Perfect Storm were driven to the sea in order to provide food and shelter for themselves and their families, Proving Ground takes a look at a group of m ...more
Joaquin Garza
Cuando leí The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, uno de los datos que más se me quedó fue aquel que rezaba que hoy en día se siguen hundiendo tantos barcos como en el siglo XVII y esta información rara vez llega a los titulares. Claro, a menos que se trate de casos de súper alto perfil, como la negligencia del Costa Concordia, o el drama humano de los barcos de inmigrantes que se hunden cerca de Lampedusa, o el famoso caso del Andrea Gail que motivó el libro de Th ...more
A riveting case study of the mixture of personalities and multiple decision chains that led to the disastrous conclusion of the 1998 Sydney-Hobart race. From a search and rescue (SAR) professional's perspective, the insight into the minds of long-distance sailors (and those who would like to think they are, but are merely wealthy) is useful intelligence for future races to predict the likely actions of a missing boat and crew. In that same vein, the experiences of the men in their disintegrating ...more
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Richard Philbrick
Having been a professional seaman most of my life I was riveted to my Kindle by Knecht's vivid account of this racing tragedy where five sailors died and five boats sank. I've participated in offshore sailboat races (I was a helmsman on a 65-footer in the Inaugural Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race in '75) and have spent more time than I care to remember in gale-force conditions while running crew boats in the offshore oil fields of Louisiana and a could feel and hear those winds again in Knecht' ...more
A good read and hard to put down. Gives you enough info. on the things you need to know without bogging you down. The account of the Sydney to Hobart boat race that resulted in disaster for many boats one particular year. Follows three of the boats during the race. I'd always heard about this race, but never knew really what was involved until I read this book.
Brian Windheim
Picked this up as a 99-cent Kindle book. It's a quick read. It is reminiscent of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, in that it explores the world of obsessed people doing dangerous things. But it is told from a journalist's perspective, and is not a first-person account.

I liked the book. Learned a few things about open-ocean sailing along the way.
It's Boxing Day in the rest of the world but in Sydney Australia, 115 sailboats crossed the start line for the beginning of a 630 mile grueling race through incredibly treacherous and dangerous seas, at the best of times. The weather was bad, the forecast worse, no one could imagine the weather that was to come. Less than 48 hours later, winds to 80 knots, 80 foot waves. Survival became the work.

Such a well compiled account. The book follows in detail several of the boats, ones that lost it all
This was a fascinating story about a subject with which I was completely unfamiliar. I had never heard of the Hobart and knew nothing whatsoever about sailing or yacht racing. I found that this book was an excellent introduction. The story of the disaster itself is a gripping tale - the author focuses on a few specific boats and specific crewmen, alternating between different boats and rescue professionals. I found it relatively easy to recall most of the backgrounds for each of the crewmen that ...more
Meijer Bjorn
G. Bruce Knecht's Account of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart sailing race is a easy to read and detailed account of the events that occurred.

In 1998, after the Sydney to Hobart sailing competition began, a storm with hurricane force winds and 80 foot waves descended on the sailors. Knecht's story focuses on a handful of boats out of the 100+ that were affected the most during the race.

The book for me was an easy read and kept me interested all the way through. Knecht did an outstanding job of organizi
Zachary Carney
The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht.

If you were stranded out in the middle of the ocean with a hurricane over your yacht! What would you do? Larry Ellison who was a wealthy business man dropped everything to become a sailor. He is now known as one of the best yacht sailors of his time. Larry Ellison and his new crew find themselves in the eye of a hurricane during the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race. This story by G. Bruce Knecht is an adventure and thrilling story that will keep you on the end of
Ryan Schulten
Ms. Frazier
English 8

A Storm Too Strong

In the book Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht, Mr. Knecht writes about the heart stopping 1998 Sydney to Hobart race. The author takes on the role of explaining first hand accounts of the race and incorporating them all together to create an amazing account of courage, leadership, perseverance, and failure. The 630 nautical mile race started with 115 boats on the starting line and only having 44 pass the finish line it is a story of how
I love reading books about things that scare the crap out of me. Sailing is one of those things, so, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave me the heebie-jeebies just as much as The Perfect Storm did -- perhaps even more so, because I have actually been on sailboats many times and have never been on a commercial fishing vessel.

The descriptions in this book of what was happening during the tragic 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart sailing race are clear and vivid. I really felt like I was on some of those bo
This is the type of book which makes me glad to be in a book club. Otherwise I never would have read this, and I found the story really interesting. Unfortunately, I did find the details kind of bogged me down. For one thing, there were way too many names to keep track of. For another, it was pretty difficult to follow the physics of everything that occurred if you're not a real sailor. I think this book could have really benefited from some good graphics--some schematics of who was on each ship ...more
This book was very mild. During the begining of the book it was a little boring with all the statistics and the history of the race. But as the story progressed, i couldnt put the book down. Its a kind of hard to keep tab of all the boats and characters but i managed some what well.And then it really took off when the "Sword",the "Brindabella",and the "Syonara" enter the storm south of Australia. The disisions the main boatv skippers had to make were what i thought were very nervracking choices ...more
Jacque Holst
You hold your breath as you participate

You hold your breath as you participate, through the power of the written word, with the other contenders in this memorable race. So well written you find yourself living the race. A moment in yachting history brilliantly brought to life by author G. Bruce Knecht. Highly recommended.
Dan Sullivan
One of the best sailing stories I've read yet. As a sailor myself, Knecht explains difficult sailing concepts with ease.

Excellent story, up there with the perfect storm. Fairly easy read.

Highly recommend it.
This book tells the story of a disastrous Hobart to Sydney yachting race back in the 90s in which the fleet basically sailed into a typhoon,
leading to half a dozen deaths and dozens of lost or badly damaged yachts. I was excited to read this book - come on, who doesn't want to read about a good, old fashioned, unmitigated disaster? - because it sounded like a situation I could relate to a little bit, having grown up sailing.

The actual book, though, disappointed. It covered only the stories of a
Gripping from the first few pages with great insight into competitive sailing and racing from the boats, to the personalities and experiences what lead up to the disastrous events of that race.
Ann Evans
If I understood even one thing about sailing, I'd probably give this five stars. It was kind of like reading a foreign language, however, with just enough English thrown in to make it engrossing. This is the story of the 1998 Australian Hobart sail race that leveled many a boat due to a tremendous storm as seen through the eyes of the owners and the crew members. The descriptions of the hazards (well, really beyond hazards, life and death situations) are chilling. If you love sailing, you'll lov ...more
John McGuinness

Courageous and dedicated sailors pursuing the glory of winning. Learned quite a bit about the sportsmanship or lack of in sailing
Lee Belbin
Fantastic read even though I was pessimistic.
Lora Stovall
Anybody who goes for this type of serious sailboat racing is crazy! It's suicide. Evidently the water between Sydney and Hobart (Tasmania) is one of the most difficult passages in the world. And in 1998 they ran the race in hurricane conditions. No one would be responsible for cancelling or postponing it, regardless of the weather forecast. A number of 'celebrities' participated - Larry Ellison of Oracle and one of Rupert Murdoch's sons. Several people were killed. And like a dummy, I read it wh ...more
Julie Thurston
This was a riveting account of the 1998 Hobart race (off the coast of Australia), where a massive storm struck soon after the start of the race. The author clearly did his homework, and the book keeps excellent pace. It primarily follows the crews of three boats, giving good insight to the men and their experiences without overwhelming the story with details.
I'm typically drawn to survival stories, especially at sea, and this book exceeded my expectations. Highly recommend.
The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race becomes the biggest disaster in the sailing history of Australia after the race is being hit by Typhoon Helen. Only 43 of the 115 boats that started the race reached Hobart. 6 Sailors died.

A very anguished book. I salute the sailors who dare to sail in these conditions (although in this case there wasn't really an option for most of the boats...) I'm already terrified when I'm sailing with Beaufort 6.
This book was a big reminder for me as I was still in Australia when this happened. It really highlighted the competitive nature in some people - That they were prepared to continue in a race in life threatening conditions just because they wanted to win.
I was most impressed with the facts of the story - the number of people rescued copmpared to the number of people who lost their lives. It could have been much worse.
Shawn Morris
Knecht puts together a compelling narrative of the race. I had trouble keeping track of the cast of characters, but that could be my feeble mind. The writing is compelling though and I devoured the book over Memorial Day weekend.

This edition comes with an afterword which was a nice coda of the book and gives some long-term perspective which goes nicely with the immediacy of the main story.
Great read.
As a kid i sailed a few times in regattas on a lake. This book was really interesting subject. I only know a small bit about sailing but that basic knowledge really let me grasp some the the things they were talking about. There were a lot od details about different people and boats that were a little hard to keep separate but the story is riviting! Hope u enjoy
Knecht asks why successful businessman place themselves in such dangerous, challenging environments and whether ultimately it is worthwhile. The way the story unfolds as does the true character of each of the crews' members is gripping. Proving Ground reads like a thriller. Don't be surprised to read it in one sitting.
It started out a bit slow, but overall the story was captivating. It definitely reads as though it was written by a journalist, which bored me at first, but then I got so engrossed in the story that it didn't matter. It was extremely well-researched and detailed.
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G. Bruce Knecht is a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Author of GRAND AMBITION: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built It, and the Millionaire Who Can't Really Afford It; THE PROVING GROUND: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race; and HOOKED: Pirates, Poaching and the Perfect Fish, he has also written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yo ...more
More about G. Bruce Knecht...
Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish Grand Ambition: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built It, and The Millionaire Who Can't Really Afford It

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