In early November, 29 sailors set out to compete in something so mad, so daring and so epic that only a handful of mariners have ever mustered the courage to attempt it — sailing solo around the world in the Vendee Globe race.
So why exactly is it so cuckoo? Well, for one, they're alone for three months in some of the coldest, roughest waters imaginable. (It's basically like driving a racing car with the top down while dodging icebergs.)
They sail night and day without stopping, without assistance and without seeing another single human. Boats and sailors break — already in this year's Vendee Globe there have been three retires, including the expected winner. In previous years, sailors have been lost at sea. All in all, Vendee Globe is about expecting the unexpected; this is not a normal sailing race.
That especially applies to the boats. The new generation of boats being raced are so insanely intense that the sailors can lose their minds with the noise.
Some of the boats use "foils," which allow the boat to basically skim across the surface of the sea and hit crazy-high speeds of 30 mph. But this incredible speed comes at a price — constant loud noise. So the sailors with foiling boats must wear headphones to protect their hearing and keep their remaining sanity intact.
But, there is one moment — the first of a few sacred moments — that will hopefully give the sailors a fair lap around the planet: the Equator crossing. As the sailors go from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern, they're given an opportunity to ask King Neptune to grant them a safe journey, free of UFOs (unidentified floating objects, not aliens from another planet.) Often this means a splash of champagne for the sailor, the boat and the King himself.
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