Ward, Nick

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Ward, Nick


Married; children: a son.


Home—Hamble, England.




(With Sinead O'Brien) Left for Dead: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2007.


Nick Ward is a sailor who was involved in one of the worst sailing disasters in modern times. Ward grew up on the sea in Hamble, England, an area with a close connection to the ocean and boating. His fondness for boats later brought him to face a maritime tragedy that cost many their lives.

Writing with the assistance of the documentary film-maker and journalist Sinead O'Brien, Ward published his memoir, Left for Dead: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, in 2007. The memoir recounts the United Kingdom's Fastnet Race of 1979, involving over 300 yachts racing from Cowes, England, to Ireland's Fastnet Rock, and then on to Plymouth, England. Ward was a crewman on the thirty-foot Grimalkin, excited to be a part of the race. Two days into the race, a storm of near-hurricane strength swept across the region, killing a total of fifteen sailors, forced the evacuation of twenty-four ships, and sank five of the racing yachts. It also caused the largest peacetime marine rescue of 136 sailors in distress from the storm. When Ward's skipper and crew abandoned the ship for the lifeboat, he was left stranded with another crewmate, who after his repeated resuscitation attempts, later died. The ship capsized numerous times, but Ward was able to survive the onslaught for fourteen hours on his own before being rescued. It was several decades later before Ward would fully tell what had happened to him on that fateful day.

Tom MacSweeney, writing on the Radio Telefis Éireann Web site, remarked that the nautical disaster "is brought vividly to life as Nick Ward tells his story of being abandoned" by his shipmates. MacSweeney commented that "Ward's story is compelling." Nick Pitt, writing in the London Times, mentioned that Ward's story "has intrigued lovers of the sea for almost thirty years." Pitt added that the memoir is both "harrowing and inspirational." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the story of survival "miraculous." The same contributor noted, however, that except for "some exuberantly rhapsodic passages near the start on his love for the art of sailing," Left for Dead "is a stiff affair." Booklist contributor Roland Green described the account as "quite a treat," noting in particular the "exceptionally vivid images" Ward recalled through the writing. Green relayed that readers, and maritime buffs and yachtsmen foremost, would "turn the pages unstintingly from beginning to end." Margaret Atwater-Singer, writing in Library Journal, "recommended" the memoir, calling it a "gripping account." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews commented that Ward's "torrential narrative presents a remarkable seafaring saga that will have readers aching for the eventual rescue." The same contributor described the memoir as "a harrowing, thrilling, first-person tale of survival in the sea."



Ward, Nick, and Sinead O'Brien, Left for Dead: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, June 1, 2007, Roland Green, review of Left for Dead, p. 20.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of Left for Dead.

Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Margaret Atwater-Singer, review of Left for Dead, p. 97.

Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2007, review of Left for Dead, p. 46.

Times (London, England), November 25, 2007, Nick Pitt, review of Left for Dead.


Radio Telefis Éireann Web site,http://www.rte.ie/ (June 29, 2007), Tom MacSweeney, review of Left for Dead.