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The Publisher

Aug 2, 2011, 11:28 AM

Post #1 of 3 (12387 views)

Spanish Castle to White Night is Mark Chisnell’s account of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. This extract of the book tells what happened when the leaders rounded the northern tip of Taiwan, in the horrific leg four battle to get to Qingdao:

Meanwhile, those at the front of the fleet, several hundred miles further north, reached lighter winds off the east coast of Taiwan. But it wasn’t over yet; the Dragon Kings had one final test before they would let them escape the Kuroshio. A heaving swell was the clue. There was breeze somewhere, and it turned out that it was just around the corner from the northern tip of Taiwan.

Telefonica Blue hit it first, and Jonathan Swain could only reflect afterwards on how fortunate they had been that it was daylight and they could see the change coming. Within minutes they were sailing under just the storm jib again, with the mainsail lashed to the boom.

Behind them in second place, Ericsson 3 wasn’t quite so fortunate. They had already had to repair their mainsail once, and when this second storm hit, the sail split again. All hands were called on deck to take it down and get it below to where the sailmakers were setting up the sewing machine.

Bowman Martin Krite was sitting on the boom to wrestle the sail free of the mast when the word came up from below, “We’re taking on water.” Those are words no one ever wants to hear on a yacht, but particularly a yacht already hard pressed in a storm. Immediately, they turned downwind and while the others secured the mainsail, the watch captain, New Zealand veteran Richard Mason, went below to have a look.

When he opened the door to the forward watertight compartment, a grim tide spilled out. Ten days of rubbish had been stored in the bow in plastic trash bags that had now burst. A filthy, knee-deep morass of food wrappings, baby wipes and other human detritus flowed aft. Mason and the boat captain, Jens Dolmer, pushed their way into the pitch-black stink of the forward compartment to try and locate the hull fissure. Disgusting as they were, the smell and the instant squalor weren’t the problem. The rest of the crew had to bale the water out, but there was no chance of the pumps working for more than a few seconds at a time, because all the rubbish swilling around would have instantly clogged the filters.

Martin Krite and his mates set to with the buckets, but it was a losing battle. The water came in a lot faster than they could bale it out. The emergency grab-bags were hauled out of the lockers, along with the survival suits. Then, inspiration: they tore the plastic mesh holdall that the kitchen utensils were stored in off the bulkhead and put the pump inside it. It worked; safe from the trash, the pumps started to help the men with buckets hold back the sea, until finally they found the hole.

It looked to have been punched upwards from the outside, as though they had crashed into something hard floating in the water. Mason stuck his boot into the gap and slowed the flow right down, while Krite and the others kept baling. Eventually, the water came under control. The lid was cut off the engine box and, when the water was almost gone, a section was stuck over the hole with waterproof glue.

But a short examination told them they weren’t safe yet. A large area of the carbon-fibre hull panel was cracked, and had separated from the layer underneath. The hull was flexing about 15 centimetres as they surged over the waves...

The 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race begins October 29th. To relive the last edition of the race, ‘Spanish Castle to White Night’ is now available in an eBook - available at all good eBook retailers, and for the Kindle at


Sep 1, 2011, 9:07 AM

Post #2 of 3 (12241 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SPANISH CASTLE TO WHITE NIGHT [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

It is illustrated with striking photography from a team that both followed and participated in the race, including Rick Tomlinson, whose work has been featured in National Geographic. A team of eight media crew members (MCMs) raced around the world capturing the drama as it unfolded and among them was Rick Deppe, PUMA’s MCM and maker of Jaguar XJ40 Parts, who was also a cameraman for the Emmy Award nominated Discovery Channel documentary, Deadliest Catch.

The Publisher

Dec 20, 2011, 2:39 PM

Post #3 of 3 (11547 views)
Re: [The Publisher] SPANISH CASTLE TO WHITE NIGHT [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Spanish Castle to White Night is Mark Chisnell’s account of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. This short extract introduces one of the race’s great characters - Jerry Kirby. Interestingly, it is Jerry's son Rome that is among the crew on PUMA in the 2011-12 edition of the race.
Amongst PUMA’s crew for Leg 5 was the American Jerry Kirby, famous for being, at 52, the world’s oldest bowman. It was a title he had held for some time, despite the fact that it’s widely regarded as a young man’s game up at the pointed end. After sailing Leg 1 to Cape Town, Kirby had gone home to deal with the impact the credit crunch was having on his construction business. To say that the process was ongoing would be an understatement, but not even financial apocalypse, defaulting clients and troublesome employees were going to stop Jerry Kirby from doing Leg 5. Afterwards he said, “It was really stupid to do this leg, as a businessman.”

Kirby is the eternal optimist, famous for his perpetual cheer and a wealth of stories. He had come up through the sport the old way, the hard way. Born in the original home of the America’s Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, he had watched his first Cup from his grandfather’s tugboat at the age of two. At 14, Kirby was hanging around outside the Intrepid America’s Cup camp, begging for work. They showed him the rigging container and told him to clean it out while they went sailing. By the time Intrepid returned to the dock, the container had been emptied, swept, painted, sorted and restacked. Kirby had his foot in the door, and three weeks later he was sailing. It was the summer of 1970, the year the Beatles broke up, the year Jimi Hendrix died.

Despite all that experience, Kirby knew exactly where he stood in the decision-making process: “The eight sled dogs are on deck, blinders on, pulling the sled... So what, you’re going to go and argue with them [skipper and navigator]? Forget it, whatever they come up with, we go that way, you don’t even think twice...”

Kirby’s sled-dog metaphor was bleak, if apt. They were on deck for four hours, burning every calorie they could eat and crawling into the bunk at the end of it, with little mental stimulus and virtually no knowledge of the outside world. But sceptical bells rang over something that Kirby had said earlier in Cape Town - was the atmosphere really so intense on deck that there was little or no conversation even from Jerry Kirby? It was no surprise when PUMA’s media crewman, Rick Deppe, blew this image apart after Kirby returned for Leg 5 (the 12,300 nm route from Qingdao in China to Rio de Janeiro), writing from the boat:

“I think that in one 15 minute period there he [Kirby] took the banter from a discussion about whether or not to shake a reef out, to an extended history lesson on the carriage houses of New England and the relative merits of red cedar over slate as a roofing material, then on to a self-diagnosis of his ribs, which he thinks might be broken, and finally for this 15 minute window of time a great story about dirt biking on the Baja peninsula with a retired line-backer who owns a bar in Tijuana.”
To relive the last edition of the race, ‘Spanish Castle to White Night’ is now available in an eBook - available at all good eBook retailers, and for the Kindle at

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