By Adrian Flanagan
Published by Adlard Coles Nautical, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc 296 pages hardcover $27
Located off the southernmost tip of South America, Cape Horn has some of the world’s fiercest weather. With no other land to the east or west all the way around the globe, it is the only ‘choke point’ in the Southern Ocean. Powerful winds, huge waves and treacherous currents that have traveled thousands of unimpeded miles encounter resistance on this desolate piece of land, which is lashed by storms for 300 days of the year. The most powerful dynamic forces on the surface of the earth are unleashed at Cape Horn, making this savage, lethally dangerous place the ultimate challenge for yachtsmen.
The Cape Horner’s Club is a thoroughly captivating compilation of stories about those intrepid sailors for whom the challenge to sail ‘round the Horn singlehanded proved irresistible. These sailing legends include Bernard Moitessier, Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Alec Rose, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Sir Chay Blyth, Webb Chiles, Dame Naomi James, Kay Cottee, Mike Golding, Lisa Clayton, Jessica Watson and Les Powles. (Many of these sailors were subsequently knighted for their bravery.) Powles, who rounded in 1981 on a 34-foot boat, succinctly characterized the determination of this elite club’s membership: “Some people thought I was an idiot but I couldn’t care less. It’s what I wanted to do.”
British author, adventurer and sailor Adrian Flanagan was born in Nairobi and grew up in Africa and the Far East, and spent a year traveling around Sri Lanka and India on a motorcycle. Fulfilling a childhood ambition to sail around the world alone, he completed a circumnavigation in 2008 and became the first solo yachtsman to sail vertically around the globe (via Cape Horn and the Russian Arctic). ■