SIX WOMEN SAILORS are to start the solo, around-the-world Vendee Globe 2020-21 on Sunday.As Pip Hare notes: "More men have walked on the moon than women have completed the Vendee Globe." These six skippers are the focus of our coverage – the stories of courage and daring they bring to a competition with each other and 27 male sailors.

Miranda Merron

I have been down in the South, Jules Verne and the Volvo, and what do I know about down there? I tell you what – it is just not a place for mankind. … It is very different to stand in a bar and say ‘I am going to do the Vendée Globe;’ it is quite another matter to be bouncing around in 30-plus knots upwind in really nasty weather.

Miranda Merron reached her midlife crisis early enough to make a successful leap into the world of professional sailing. Merron had applied her Cambridge University degree in Oriental Studies to a budding career in advertising, spending four years in Tokyo, Sydney and Paris with the legacy agency J. Walter Thompson.

A switch flipped in her mid 30s, and Merron tacked from the corporate world to off-shore sailboat racing. The shift suited her: Merron set a speed record in the 2009 Round Britain and Ireland, and took first in 2012 Transat Quebec-St Malo, the latter with her longtime companion Halvard Mabire.

Merron’s podium finishes continued through the first half of the 2010s. The Vendee Globe was the focus this year, and that included an entry in the Vendee Artique Les Sables d’Olonne, where she finished 17th and learned the lack of money for streaming internet to monitor the fleet doesn’t mean the end of the world: