Audio is a great medium for armchair adventure; a well-wrought, well-read account can create such intense immediacy that you can actually feel the rush of excitement or, sometimes, apprehension and anguish. The Proving Ground, G. Bruce Knecht's brilliant reconstruction of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race, expertly performed by Stanley Tucci, is exemplary armchair adventure. The 630-mile competition began when 115 yachts of all sizes crossed the starting line on a beautiful, sunny day, with thousands cheering them on. There was some concern about an impending storm, but these dedicated, determined sailors considered it par for this tough course. Then it hit with hurricane-force winds and 80-foot waves, and all hell broke loose. Knecht closely follows four yachts; we get to know their skippers and crews as they battled for their lives and the rescue teams who fought to save them from this watery nightmare.

Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.


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