On the 9th of November 2008, thirty of the world’s top solo sailors set off from Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendée Globe. Only 11 returned to the finish – Steve White finished 8th.
The Vendée Globe is quite rightly known as the most challenging mental and physical sporting event any human being can undertake. It’s more than an international sailing event, it is a sporting phenomenon that pits sailors against the extremes of the environment as it pushes them to the extremes of their own mental and physical capability. The 2008 Vendée Globe marked the fifth time a group of intrepid solo sailors have set off from Les Sable d’Olonne, France and raced non-stop around the world via the five Great Capes.
The sheer brutality of the Vendée Globe lies not just in the violence of Southern Ocean storms, but also in the climatic extremes which are accentuated by days of endless isolation. For almost four months, the solo sailors have to race their boats: eat, sleep, navigate, strategise and remain safe whilst battling the scorching heat and humidity of the tropics as well as the frigid far reaches of the high southern latitudes around Antarctica. It is a balancing act between speed, safety, mental self discipline, and yet somehow finding the time to relish the pure pleasure of sailing alone on the open ocean.