On August 11, 1979, 303 yachts began the 600-mile Fastnet Race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Fastnet Rock off the Irish coast and back. It began in fine weather, then suddenly became a terrifying ordeal. A Force 10, sixty-knot storm swept across the Atlantic with a speed that confounded weather forecasters, slamming into the fleet. For twenty hours, 2500 men and women were smashed by forty-foot breaking waves. By the time the race was over, a few days later, fifteen people had died, twenty-four crews had abandoned ship, five yachts had sunk, 136 people had to be rescued, and only 85 boats finished the race. John Rousmaniere, who was there, tells the story of this greatest disaster in the history of yachting.