Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Robert Knox-Johnston, 67, reflects on the challenge of a solo yacht race around the world:
This is the ultimate sailing challenge, the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. Only 165 people have sailed this course solo - about a twentieth of the number that have climbed the world’s tallest peak.
It is a mean, cold, inhospitable place and stinging freezing water hitting the eyes at storm speeds causes temporary blindness for minutes. Here are the largest waves, frequently over 27 metres, created by the strongest winds; with sea water temperatures affected by Antarctica fractionally above freezing.
In the frequent storms the sailor cannot take rest as a mountaineer might in similar conditions because this is when the boat needs constant attention. So why go there? Simple, it is because it is the toughest challenge open to any sailor - and far better to do something hard and have the satisfaction of a real achievement.