The Vendée Globe, as this race is known, is regarded by many competitive sailors as the ultimate open-ocean sailboat race. From France, the competitors sail south along the coast of Africa, round the Cape of Good Hope, then head east through the notoriously dangerous Southern Ocean, sailing south of Australia, past Cape Horn at the tip of South America, then north again to France. The race, which the competitors must complete without any outside assistance, is a test of courage, determination, self-reliance, resourcefulness, stamina, emotional fortitude, ingenuity, patience, and endurance.
Many years ago, I worked as a deckhand on a 65-foot yacht that we sailed from Gibraltar across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. For the most part, the trip across the ocean was relatively peaceful, but there were several occasions when I witnessed the fury of nature in a way that I never had before and never have since. The middle of the ocean can be a very scary place even on a fully crewed sailboat. Being alone multiplies the intensity of the experience by orders of magnitude.