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A Voyage for Madmen

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,904 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, a ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published June 4th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published June 1st 1997)
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Community Reviews

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Petra X
This was the first 10-star book of 2017. What would make anyone want to sail around the world single-handed and without stopping? In 1968 The Sunday Times put up a prize of £5,000 and the Golden Globe trophy to the first person to make it back.

Nine men took up the challenge. One of them, Chay Blythe, couldn't even sail, but had rowed across the Atlantic. Only one of them, as it turned out, was up to the challenge, and he didn't want the prize.

So what happened to the nine men? Four dropped out b
"They were neither sportsmen nor yachtsmen. Only one of the nine crossed the finishing line after ten months at sea. The rest encountered despair, sublimity, madness and death".

The 1968 round the world yacht race was born from a number of individual plans to conduct a non-stop single-handed circumnavigation of the world. The Sunday Times wanted to be involved but was unsure who to sponsor as they did not want to be involved with a sailor who did not win and two of the most likely to succeed a
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book because
A) a teacher told me it was his favorite, and I always read teachers' favorites
and B) because I was sorely lacking something to read at the moment.

I knew NOTHING about sailing. I still know nothing about sailing, nor do I plan to change this state of events anytime soon. So, when I first checked it out from the library, I fully expected to be hopelessly bored within the first twenty pages, if not bogged down by the sheer nautical terminology, of which I was so ignorant.
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
The true story of the first single-handed circumnavigation of the world by yacht. That means, a full circuit of the world, alone. On a boat powered only by sail. In a time not so long ago, but before GPS.

In 1968 there were a handful of men vying to be the first alone around the world, and a prize was posted, making it a race. Of nine contenders, only one finished the race, and this is the story of all the noble, rugged, hapless and crazy entrants, and the extremes they underwent and went to.

Peter Nichols has put together a great little book on the 1969 Golden Globe race to be the first man to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe without stopping in any ports along the way. "A Voyage for Madmen" gives a great overview of the race and varying personalities involved -- from professional maritime men to vagabond sailors to one contestant who didn't even learn to sail until he was on his way. Only one person completed the race.

I've read other accounts of the race (including the exce
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Die "Vendée Globe" gilt als die härteste Segelregatta der Welt. Dabei können sich die Sportler heutzutage auf GPS, Hightech-Yachten und gute Kommunikation verlassen.

Davon konnten die Teilnehmer des "Sunday Times Golden Globe Race", der ersten Nonstop Einhand-Weltumsegelungsregatta im Jahr 1968, nur träumen.

In "A Voyage for Madmen" rekonstruiert Peter Nichols die Geschichte von neun Männern, die auszogen das letzte große Abenteuer der Erde zu erleben.

Doch zehn Monate später sollte nur einer von
A Voyage for Madmen is the true story of a eclectic and diverse group of men who found themselves in an inadvertent race to become the first person to sail non-stop around the world. The story is amazing. The group consisted of experienced sailors and those who had almost no sailing experience whatsoever. If that blows your mind as it did mine, it gets worse: one of the men would try to hoodwink the world while never leaving the Atlantic's nearly unbelievable. Death, catastrophe, and ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I am a sailor who has sailed in heavy weather, and thus I have more than average interest in it.

"Round the World! There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings; but whereto does all that circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started."
So said Ishmael in Moby-Dick.

Since I have already read Bernard Moitessier's book, The Long Way (La Longue Route), I knew about the Golden Globe Race of 1968. Nichols' view of the contestants only m
David Campbell
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
An wonderfully well written book about the world's first solo circumnavigational sailboat race, from England, around both capes, and back again. Held in 1968, it truly was the ultimate test of will, skill, and nerves. This book adeptly chronicles the contestants, the preparations, and the challenges that they all faced in their attempt to survive... much less win the race. Told by a sailor who has experienced the perils of the ocean first hand, it leaves the reader with an understanding of the t ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's a fascinating study of personality and endurance and dealing with psychological struggles. And I really like sailing. I enjoyed this book a lot.
My one criticism is that it was hard to keep track of who was who. The author included a brief bio of each of the nine sailors in the beginning to help, which I kept flipping back to for the first half of the book. Nonetheless I felt like it would help to read it again when I was finished, once I had figured out who all the players were.
Bruno Lucas
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samuel Goldenbaum
Cannot recommend this book enough. You really couldn't make this stuff up. Characters straight out of a Wes Anderson tale.

More than a story about one of the most challenging events ever held, it's an incredible study of the characters, psychology and motivations of these 9, very different, personalities. A tour through both the marvel, incredible method and madness of the 9 participants all taking part in an inconcievable race for glory, fame and survival. The end results will baffle all.

Suzannah Hoppe-washburn
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe Race and I am glad I did. The book is about the trials and joys of the sailors who attempted to sail around the world nonstop in 1968. After reading this book, I am confused why anyone would try again, considering everything these sailors went through. This was well researched and kept me up way too late reading. A good book makes you feel sad when you are finished. A great book leaves you with I want more. This was a gre ...more
David Drent
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Finished and it was one heck of a ride... I have loved to ocean and always wanted to sail but this book has confirmed for me how harsh and unforgiving it can be. Physically, mentally, emotionally. The open ocean can break men or strengthen them.
I loved the book but upon finishing it I feel depressed after having read some of the outcomes.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I suddenly have the desire to sail around the world.
Feb 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Adventure & weekend sailors
Recommended to Diane by: An accidental find
Shelves: true-tales
I picked this paperback up in a Minneapolis airport book shop, desperate for something to read at night during an upcoming hiking trip. Little did I know how riveting the tale would be, nor could I have guessed that I'd laugh aloud in a few spots.

Imagine going out on the ocean in a little boat, maybe one you built and definitely one you outfitted yourself. Maybe a little scary but you'd have GPS and satellite 'phones and top notch equipment - right? Now imagine that it's 1968. You're using a co
Angela Callister
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is a great read! Thrilling story, well-written and a real eye-opener regarding the personalities of individuals who take it upon themselves to embark on long journeys as lone yachtsmen. Happy to lose an eye if it means that you win a boat race? One of these competitors is. Madmen indeed!

Oh, and it's a true story.

For some of the competitors, the story is of how they met their deaths and for that reason, each of the dramas carries an extra poignancy. The author is a yachtsman himself a
Neil Fulwood
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The recent film ‘The Mercy’, about Donald Crowhurst and the act of deception in the 1968 Golden Globe race that drove him to madness, encouraged me to seek out this book. Though Nichols is obviously fascinated by Crowhurst’s story - the chapter on Crowhurst’s final hours is as emotionally shattering as anything I’ve read - he is assiduous in his account of the other eight competitors. Writing with a lifetime’s experience of sailing behind him, he conjures the hardships and the elements vividly; ...more
Fiona Squires
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This is the true story of the incident packed Sunday Times Golden Globe race to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and singlehanded.

Nichols has a gift of a subject with strong characters facing life or death situations. He uses his sailing knowledge enough to explain what happened but does not go so much into sailing jargon that non sailors would be put off.

Generally he concentrates on each of the sailors in turn as they plot their courses round the world and face up to the
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: frontier-lore
I read this on vacation in Maine. I picked it out of the rental owner's closet bookshelf. This is a compelling read of wildly different characters that were motivated by their own reasons to make the first and fastest solitary voyage across the world - sailing through the most difficult oceans. Compelling storytelling and an insightful look at the characters, cultural differences and motivation of very different men. The technological aspects of the voyage (or relative lack of modern technology) ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book but being fairly familiar with the story of the famous Golden Globe race after reading the individual books from or about Crowhurst, Moitessier and Knox-Johnson I found some parts of the book not that interesting anymore as much the story telling came from parts of these earlier books. If you completely new to the topic, you will likely enjoy this book as it is well written and a fascinating story about truly extraordinary men. If you did read the other books already. ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sea, take-a-chance
Riveting. A window onto another world. A bunch of people with great contrasts of experience and character, doing something extraordinary in what is nearly, though not quite, the modern world. The author did a great job keeping a balance with the thrills and spills and the repeating monotony of life at sea on your own.
Linda Hall
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
One of my hobbies is reading true life stories about real sailors on real life sailing adventures. I sail myself - we have a 34' sailboat that we basically move aboard in the summer - but I'm the first to admit that I'm a 'fair weather sailor.' So, this whole thing is vicarious. Even if you're not a sailor, I think you' enjoy Voyage for Madmen. Very readable. Very scary. Very well-written.
Martha Tarafa
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written account of a historic round the world solo, non-stop, sailing race. This is an exhilarating story of adventure and the human spirit. I did not want this book to end.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it

4.5 Stars!

“I finally awoke at 1100 having had three hours uninterrupted sleep…We were rolling very heavily and it was difficult to stand inside the cabin, but I managed to heat up some soup…I felt very depressed on getting up…I used up a lot of nervous energy last night by leaving the jib up, for what-maybe an extra 20 miles if we’re lucky-and what difference does 20 miles make when I have about 20,000 to go? The future does not look particularly bright…sitting here being thrown about for the ne
Alumine Andrew
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love a good sailing story as they contain plenty of adventurous people who are just a little bit mad. But in this book, wow, most of them are off the scale.

This is the true story of the first round-the-world yacht race. It was sponsored by the Sunday Times and was called the Golden Globe race and was seen as the last frontier: to sail singlehandedly around the world non-stop and without any assistance.

Nine men left England in 1968 and only one made it across the line (1969).

The men involved ar
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love reading about man vs Mother Nature/expedition styled non-fiction books. They always impress me the pure desire and stubbornness and sheer determination these individuals possess to push through often horrible situations.
Peter Nichols did an excellent job of describing this solo trip/race around the world in a single manned sailboat. While parts were a bit dry for me, (simply because I am not a sailor and there is a decent amount of explanation on how each vessel operates) I found myself e
S.G. Wright
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. What a tale. I didn't know much about this solo 1968-round-the-world boat race before I picked this book up -- but my husband's a sailor so he yammered about it. I figured I'd check it out and I'm glad I did before The Mercy movie (with Colin Firth as Donald Crowhurst) comes out this year. Crowhurst was one of the sailboat racers that the book talks about -- 9 started the race and only 1 finished after 10 months. I was hooked by the story and the incredible risks and hardships that al ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really a stellar read. Such an interesting story about events somehow completely unknown to me. The book chronicles the 1968 Golden Globe race, a solo, non stop, unsupported sailing race around the world. The captains endured some of the harshest ocean conditions possible while spending close to a year completely alone on their boats. It drove some to the peak of achievement and others to the depths of madness. Where do I sign up?

The race was never repeated, due partially to the tragic results a
Sam Marshall
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I was skeptical about this book when I picked it up off of the shelf at my parents house. My dad took a look at the hilarious captions in the picture section and his laughter piqued my interest. I opened it one night a few weeks later, still thinking that I wouldn't like it. Three hours later it was well past my bed time. The pace of this book is perfect. You couldn't make this stuff up.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in adventuring, which should be everyone. The explanation o
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN: 9780060957032 2 16 May 19, 2013 01:05PM  
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“Donald Crowhurst had an extraordinary talent for making people believe him. His power lay in the fact that he had completely convinced himself.” 1 likes
“One day a Japanese guard came into the 20-year-old Moitessier’s cell intending to kill him. He raised his pistol, but they locked eyes until, inexplicably, the guard lowered the pistol and walked away. Now, years later, tenderized by solitude, Moitessier wished he had spared the rat.” 1 likes
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