More than 2,500 people have climbed Mount Everest. 450 have been into space. But only 60 people have sailed singlehanded, non-stop around the world - and survived.

The Vendée Globe sailing race is largely regarded as the single most difficult sporting challenge known to man.

Three months alone at sea covering 24,000 miles, a wind-chill of -20 degrees and 5,000 calories of freeze-dried food a day are just some of the challenges the skippers have to look forward to.

The race has been dominated by the French since its inception in 1989 - but now, for the first time ever, seven of the 30 skippers are British, and six of them are from Hampshire.

In the weeks leading up to the November 9 start, SailSolent will bring you an in-depth look at each of the Hampshire skippers going for glory.

This week we take a look at the "crazy horse" of the bunch, Alex Thomson.

For interviews, videos and all the latest news on the Vendée Globe, click here for SailSolent's dedicated page.