One person, one boat and mile upon mile of open sea. Ever since Joshua Slocum circumnavigated the world in 1895-1898, sailors have dreamed of taking to the high seas alone and many have devoted their lives to doing just that. Sir Francis Chichester sailed around the world in 266 days in 1966 and, two years later, Robin Knox-Johnston became the first to do it non-stop. If one skipper could do it fast, then others thought they could do it faster. From the first Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race (Ostar) in 1960, the idea of lone sailors pitting their wits against each other and the elements aboard such delicate-seeming craft has captured the public's imagination. This text explores the background of all the major single-handed sailing races from the pioneering Ostar to the Vendee Globe. Each chapter traces the history of each race and includes a detailed map of the route. Feature spreads on celebrated skippers and their dramatic stories are included, along with an exploration of the impact these fearless men and women have had on boat design, as their quest for sailing excellence has continued to challenge boat technology.
Nic Compton was brought up on boats in the Mediterranean until the age of 15. He worked as a boat builder for a few years after university. While working in Greece he bought a 32ft William Atkins double-ender, sister ship to Knox-Johnston's Suhaili, which he sailed back to the UK. After a post-graduate course in journalism he became deputy editor, then editor of Classic Boat from 1994-2000. He now works as a freelance writer and photographer, writing for magazines such as Yachting Monthly, Motorboats and Yachting, and Boat International and partly living on his 37ft classic wooden sloop Red Gauntlet, which he sailed back from Portugal.