The official book of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 - Spanish Castle to White Night - is launched today and already it carries 'award-winning' status.
The gripping account of the 2008-09 race, penned by Mark Chisnell, known to this parish as the author of the TEN ZULU REPORT, was voted Best Sports Illustrated Book at SPORTEL Monaco, the international sports convention for television and new media, in early October.
The book tells the story of the 88 men who set off from beneath the ramparts of Alicante's Castle of Santa Barbara. Only 36 would journey the full 37,000 nautical miles to finish in the White Nights of St Petersburg. Japan's Black Tide, brutal weather, injuries, and even the credit crunch all took their toll.
Published today by dakini Media, London, it charts the tale of the world's best offshore sailors who left Alicante in October 2008 in pursuit of victory in the Volvo Ocean Race.
It follows them through the ensuing nine months as they endured every possible emotion, their human story intertwined with the raw elements of nature and the extraordinary technology on which their success, and sometimes their survival, depended.
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.
Photographic contributions also come from the eight Media Crew Members (MCMs) aboard each Volvo Open 70 who captured the drama as it unfolded. Among them was Rick Deppe, the MCM of PUMA's il mostro, who was also a cameraman for the Emmy Award nominated Discovery Channel documentary, Deadliest Catch.
The author, Mark Chisnell, has combined writing and professional sailing for over 20 years, publishing nine works of fiction and nonfiction, and contributing to some of the world's leading magazines and newspapers, including Esquire and The Guardian.
He has also won three offshore sailing world championships, and sailed as navigator with six America's Cup teams.
Mark says the book is focussed on a small group of men involved in the 2008-09 race. Spanish Castle to White Night is their story.
"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," he writes on www.markchisnell.com.
"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 big decision, was the makeup of that group, he says and whether to pick the group before the start, or allow it choose itself as the race 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) 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 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."
Another key element was the decision not to include a skipper in the group. Mark reasoned that if he had chosen one, he would have to include them all.
"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)," he added.
"I wanted 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 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.
"It was quite a challenge to capture all of it in words, but I tried to apply the lessons about story-telling that I've learned from writing my novels."
As for the finished product, he says: "The book looks beautiful, the team did a great job on photography, picture selection, design and production and I want to thank everyone involved for their fantastic efforts."
Also available in addition to Spanish Castle to White Night, is a special Nordic edition - High Seas High Stakes (English language) which includes an Ericsson Racing Team prologue and epilogue written by Sean McNeill, a sailing writer and active racer, and imagery by premier Swedish photographer, Oskar Kihlborg.