It lay like a gauntlet thrown down; to sail around the world alone and non-stop. No one had ever done it, no one knew if it could be done. In 1968, nine men - six Englishmen, two Frenchmen and an Italian - set out to try, a race born of coincidence of their timing. One didn't even know how to sail. They had more in common with Captain Cook or Ferdinand Magellan than with the high-tech, extreme sailors of today, a mere forty years later. It was not the sea or the weather that determined the nature of their voyages but the men they were, and they were as different from one another as Scott from Amundsen. Only one of the nine crossed the finishing line after ten months at sea. The rest encountered despair, sublimity, madness and even death.