Spanish Castle to White Night
So, you think you’d like to sail around the world?
Imagine sunsets across calm oceans, cocktails at cosy anchorages, landfalls in amazing new places....
And then imagine something else, imagine taking part in one of the planet’s last great adventures. Imagine the story of an incredible race, ripping and roaring through the seven seas. Imagine a tale of endurance, deprivation, fear and courage, a story of winners and losers, those who made it and those who did not. Imagine ‘Spanish Castle to White Night – the Race Around the World’.
The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 ran for 37,000 miles through 10 stages across the world’s seas and oceans. It was raced in the planet’s fastest and most demanding monohull, the Volvo Open 70, capable of sustaining speeds of well over 30 knots. The boat and the course made this the most exacting of all crewed sailboat races, a microscopic examination of the sailing skill, seamanship, stamina and strategy of the 11 men aboard each boat.
This book charts the story of some of the 88 men who left Alicante in October 2008 to win that race. It followed them through the next nine months as they endured and enjoyed every possible emotion, their human story intertwined with the raw elements of nature and the extraordinary technology on which their success and sometimes even their survival depended:
- Fly through the Southern Ocean at world record pace, until there is a sickening, loud bang.
- Wake up to a middle-of-the-night phone call from a badly damaged boat at the mercy of freezing southern seas.
- Endure a demolition derby at the hands of Monsoon storms and Japan’s Black Tide.
- Battle for 40 days and 40 nights to cross the Pacific from north to south and west to east, round Cape Horn and finally escape to balmy Brazil.
- Snap a rudder amidst the snow and fog of the North Atlantic in winter.
Originally available in English and Spanish as a coffee table edition, and now as a text-only eBook available from all good eBook retailers; Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, BarnesandNoble.com, iBookstore, Sony's Reader Store, Smashwords.com and Diesel.
Winner of Sportel Monaco 2009 Award: Best Illustrated Book.
Spanish Edition: Del Castillo Español a la Noche Blanca
Nordic Edition: High Seas, High Stakes: The Race Around the World
"I doubt I'll ever circle the globe in a racing boat, and I'm not sure I even want to, but Mark Chisnell has made the experience real. This is a marvellous book about a great adventure, and anyone fascinated by sailing should have it on their shelf."
"Racing around the world looks as though it has progressed significantly since I had a go on Drum in '86; certainly on a technical level. As you can see from the pictures in Mark Chisnell's book, the boats are lighter, faster and sailing more on the edge than ever before. But the experience of the men who sail them, remains the same. It's muscle and nerve and the will to win, to get you across a big, big ocean. There's a whole lot of seawater out there to drive you crazy as you go around."
Simon Le Bon
"Emotions, tactics and conditions are brought to life for the reader throughout and, whether you are a sailor or not, you will find yourself carried around the world on a captivating journey."
"Puedo recomendarlo abiertamente porque lo acabo de leer y excelente."
Juanpa Cadario (Don't forget there's a Spanish Edition!)
Writing Spanish Castle to White Night
"The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 ran for 37,000 miles through ten stages across the world's seas and oceans. It was raced in the planet's fastest and most demanding monohull, the Volvo Open 70, capable of sustaining speeds well over 30 knots. The boat and the course make this the most exacting of all crewed sail boat races, a microscopic examination of the qualities of sailing skill, seamanship, stamina and strategy for the 11 men aboard each yacht.
"Spanish Castle to White Night charts the story of some of the 88 men that left Alicante in October 2008 to win that race. It follows them through the next nine months as they endured and enjoyed every possible emotion, their human story intertwined with the raw elements of nature and the extraordinary technology on which their success and sometimes even their survival depended."
So reads the text on the inside flap of the front cover - the key phrase for writing the book was; 'charts the story of some of the 88 men'. I made the decision very early that if I tried to write about everything that happened to everyone, I would end up with a long list of disconnected events happening to disconnected people, without any context or meaning.
The only way around it was to pick a smaller group to follow through the whole nine months. It was a tough thing to do, I had a lot of friends sailing and working on this race, and the decision meant that some of them would only appear in the crew lists in the appendix. But there was never any doubt that telling more of the story through fewer people would make for a better book.
The next problem was whether to pick the group before the start, or allow it to form as events and personalities unfolded. I chose the former, largely because the intense schedule of the race, for which I was also writing daily website reports (the TEN ZULU REPORT) would make the alternative a much harder path. The decision meant that I could do all the background interviews before the start in Alicante, getting the biographies of each of the chosen crewmen.
It also allowed me to do something else, and that was part two of the plan for the book. I'd come up with a list of stuff that I wanted to cover, a mix of background information (like how the watch systems worked), along with likely events that would befall the crew (like breaking something). So part of choosing the crew was not just to get a diverse group of nationalities, personalities, ages and backgrounds, but also to make sure that I had someone that could be the book's expert on each of the topics.
So the interviews in Alicante all included background questions on whatever technical subject I'd chosen for the individual - sticking with the example of the watch system, I talked to Neal McDonald about this in Alicante, an interview that was eventually used in the chapter, Broken Rhythms, about leg six.
If there was a controversial aspect to this plan, it was that I didn't include a single skipper in the group of people that I'd chosen to follow. There were many good reasons for this, but the one that loomed largest at the start in Alicante was that if I'd chosen one, I'd have had to use them all, or be accused of favouritism by the teams. And with eight skippers making up the bulk of the group, the book would have had a very different feel.
And subsequently, I was only too conscious during the race of the number of times that I wrote for the website 'Torben Grael', 'Ken Read' or 'Ian Walker', when I actually meant the boat and all the crew (and sometimes the shore teams as well). Sailing distils the contributions of many into the adulation (or vilification) of just one person like few other sports. I wanted to get past that, to open the race out, and give people a feel for the huge range of characters and skills that were involved.
After all, the skippers had plenty of opportunity to force their way into the narrative. They were encouraged to write daily emails from onboard, and were interviewed more times than most of them would care to count. I listened to, or read, much of this material, and a lot of it informed the story.
So that's how the book was written, weaving the predetermined topics and biographies into the narrative of the race as it unfolded; through the weather and daily position changes, the emails, photos and reports from the boats, and the many interviews done with the crews by myself and others. In the end, the book covered everything that I hoped, but not in as much depth - it could easily have been twice as long!
Thank you to...
Finally, there wasn't much space for thanks in the printed version of the book, so I'd like to add a few words on that here. There are many people involved in a project like this, and although my name is on the cover it would never have happened without the contributions of many others. Firstly and most importantly, many thanks to Lizzie Ward for overseeing the project from start to finish.
Tim Stonton did a fantastic job as picture editor, a task made harder by the extraordinary selection of images produced by the official photographers to the race, Rick Tomlinson and David Kneale, and the media crews; Sergey Bogdanov, Guo Chuan, Mark Covell, Rick Deppe, Gustav Morin, Gabriele Olivo, Mikel Pasabant, Anton Paz, Sander Pluijm and Guy Salter - thanks to all of them.
I'd also like to thank Riath Al-Samarrai, Amanda Blackley, Peter Rusch and Guy Swindells for obtaining some of the quotes that I've used in the text, along with Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad, for his support for the book. And on the commercial side, I must mention Anders Lofgren at VEM, and Graeme Beeson and his team at Fairmead for their efforts.
A special thanks goes to Frances Clarke, Barthold van Doorn and editor, Richenda Todd, who all provided great feedback and help with the text. And I mustn't forget Miriam Torres for her Spanish translation
Then there's Lucky Dissanayake's team at Dakini Media; Gemma Grass-Orkin, David Chamberlain and especially project manager, Jo Grummitt, and designer, Misha Anikst - many thanks for producing such a beautiful book.
It would be a crime to forget the team press officers who had to arrange the dozens of interviews it took to put together this book; Diana Bogaards, Kate Fairclough, Daniel Ferrando, Lucy Harwood, Rustam Ismailov, Yvo Janssen, Victoria Low and Helena Paz - thanks to one and all for your patience! Nearly last, but definitely not least are Marion Brennan, Cassie Chapman, Cameron Kelleher, Jennifer Langille and Sophie Luther who, along with video team, Keith Brash and Matt Carkeek, helped with all the promotional work.
And, of course, I want to thank the crews who participated, either by writing or speaking from the boats, but especially those who gave up their time for interviews about their experiences afterwards. I'm sure that they would rather have been with their families and friends - did I forget anyone? I hope not.