Lone Sailors and Spiritual Insights: Cases of Sport and Peril at Sea - Mellen Studies in Sport S. v. 1 (Hardback)Mr. Richard Hutch (author)
Hardback 432 Pages / Published: 01/02/2005
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This book examines a number of autobiographical and biographical works, as well as personal interviews, which substantiate the author's thesis that solo sailors, who face peril at sea and come to terms with the sea's partiality and get used to its indifference, can undergo a transformation of self can lead to what he terms as spiritual purpose or 'moral presence'. One of the most common cliches about sport is that it "builds character," with the maxim "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton," being one of the most prominent examples. Yet there has been surprisingly little scholarly work on the sport/character nexus. Thus Richard Hutch's present work is a valuable inquiry into character-formation in sport. Using an interdisciplinary perspective and creatively blending primary and secondary sources from myriad contexts, Hutch demonstrates both why single-handed sailors take such high risks and the moral lessons we can learn from their endeavours. Perhaps the most absorbing aspect of Hutch's analysis is his explanation of how sailors "navigate" the cultural imperatives of "technical self-reliance" and "moral presence." The former term refers to the ways in which sailing (and virtually all sports) has become increasingly dependent on science and technology. Moral presence is about how sailors react when the technology becomes useless and they face life-threatening situations. Hutch shows that although responses vary, sailors tend to oscillate between the extremes of "adapting" and "optimising," with too much of the latter often leading to hubris. By using examples as varied as the deluded Donald Crowhurst perishing in the mid-Atlantic and Kay Cottee marveling at the beauty of the 20-metre waves off Cape Horn that could have pulverised her at any moment, Hutch convincingly and compellingly elucidates the "existential paradox" of single-handed sailing. Hutch shows how "bearing witness to oneself" in single-handed sailing can lead to profound spiritual insights and revivify human existence. This is a fascinating, erudite and highly readable contribution to existentialism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, religious studies, and sports studies. It represents groundbreaking work in the field of sport and spirituality, drawing insightfully on a wide range of sources in the social and behavioural sciences and the history and psychology of religions.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
Number of pages: 432
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