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This report is taken from PN Review 193, Volume 36 Number 5, May - June 2010.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

12 November 2007

What was the sound, the very particular, exact sound, of the contact when the Canopus shot round onto her weather beam, rounding the mark boat, which was the Eurydice, and scraping the Eurydice’s spanker boom because she came so close? Think of that sound. Try for it. Guesswork, of course, but, such a definite sound, out there in space over the sea, it tempts me to imagine it. It has such an identity, placed, rounded, one might say, subsuming its own echo, then over, leaving emptiness. The essence of something that occurred. And the radiance of that, too. Considerable. The old Canopus, 80 guns, which used to be the French ship, the Franklin, until she was, in 1798, in the Battle of the Nile, set on fire by debris from the burning L’Orient, and surrendered, being, then, renamed as Canopus. The Eurydice, sloop, 24 guns, not, at the date of this race, the training ship for Ordinary Seamen that she became in 1877, and which subsequently sank in a squall off the Isle of Wight, with only two men of the 300 aboard saved, as lamented by Hopkins in his poem about the loss, about ‘those lads’. And the other boats in the race, those built by the English. The Superb, which led Canopus on the leeward run by eighty yards but was beaten after the turn, on the return to wind-ward, against the risen sea. She was built in 1842, which was forty ...

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