Risk to Gain

Southern Ocean Hazards
Mark Chisnell
Risk to Gain is the story of the winning team in the 1997-98 Whitbread Race. It's a unique insight into Team EF's two boats during their journey around the world. Stomach-churning storms, frustrating calms, broken gear and remarkable details of life onboard are all here - as well as shattered hopes and stunning victories.

Risk to Gain Book Cover
The original coffee table edition included the exceptional photography of Rick Tomlinson (featured in the National Geographic), and was probably the most vivid pictorial and written record of the world's greatest ocean race ever produced.

It's now available as a text-only eBook from all good eBook retailers; Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, BarnesandNoble.com, iBookstore, Sonys Reader Store, Smashwords.com and Diesel.

'There are many accounts of man against the sea, and man against man at sea, but seldom has there been such a panoramic portrayal of life at its cramped, frenetic and frightening worst as this examination of the latest winning Whitbread Round the World Race campaign'
Stuart Alexander, Independent, 'Sports Book of the Week'

'What it does brilliantly is get under the skin of what it is like to live and breathe a Whitbread Race.'
Tim Jeffery, The Daily Telegraph

'It's the best book yet on this race. Great writing and great pictures.'
Yachts and Yachting

Writing Risk to Gain
Risk to Gain was my first narrative non-fiction book, and I started it not long after my first novel, The Defector, was published. Looking back, the novel clearly influenced the approach, using first-hand accounts from the point of view of Anna Drougge and Magnus Olsson that matched the first person narrative of The Defector. Anna and Magnus were both crew, one aboard each of the men's (EF Language) and the women's (EF Education) boats that Team EF had entered into the 1997-98 Whitbread Race.

In the same way as for the Volvo Ocean Race of 2008-09, I followed the action around the world by writing an internet commentary from the race headquarters (but in 1997 that was a brand new idea, from the now defunct quokka.com). I then travelled to the stopovers to interview the crews and write the book. But the experience was very different in 1997-98 - the book was about just one team, and I only had one or two people to interview in each stopover.

The idea to focus on just two people came from Team EF and the original Swedish publisher, the wonderful Jeppe Wikstrom at Max Strom. It had a big impact on the way Risk to Gain turned out. The narrower scope made life simpler in some ways, harder in others. It was simpler in that I only had one or two people to chase around to try and pin down to an interview. And it was harder in that I had only one or two people to interview - a story had to be crafted from whatever they had to tell me.

By focusing on individual experiences during each of the stages of the race, rather than trying to get one person to recall all the events that had happened during weeks at sea, we made the process much easier for Anna, Magnus and myself. But I think we were also able to reveal aspects of the experience that just hadn't been seen before. Much of what goes down on a Whitbread or Volvo boat is never talked about outside the tight circle of the crew ('what happens offshore stays offshore'), but I'd like to think that this book uniquely lifted the covers on a very private world.

Mark Chisnell website