What is it with the sea, particularly sailing, that appeals so much that it becomes an obsession? What about the incredibly rich who fund those obsessions with millions of dollars to compete in the America's Cup, the Sydney-Hobart, or other professional or amateur races? There's the racing for possible fame and glory, using high-tech masts, sails, and composite material hulls; also tactics, coming as close to the limits of the equipment as possible in heavy wind and seas without blowing out a sail or losing a mast. What happens to the boats and their crews when the weather goes terribly wrong? This is the tale of the disastrous 1998 Sydney-Hobart race in which six sailors died. Knecht obviously did exhaustive research, conducting numerous personal interviews, in order to reconstruct the race and explain individual ordeals and rescues. The abridgment is nicely done, with the sound of roaring seas at points in the action and ends of cassettes complementing the story well. Read excellently by Stanley Tucci, The Proving Ground is recommended for adult adventure or sports collections. Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.