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.

Alexia Barrier

"In the Indian and Pacificque, there are 20m high waves, storms for the general public. I am not getting worked up about that. I just want to be out there enjoying it all. Even if we have an idea of what lies ahead, you can’t plan what will really happen. You’d wear yourself out doing that.”

Alexia Barrier focuses on the environment as much as sailing. Barrier established the 4myplanet foundation to preserve the planet with help from children. In 2010, she became the first solo female to gather environmental data during a race and deliver it to the International Atomic Energy Agency, among others. In January, an agreement to continue research was signed by UNESCO and IMOCA.
Barrier told her story about sustainability in a 10-minute talk at TED-ex Monte Carlo:

  • “It was June 2008. I was finishing a race and I was getting close to shore. Then, all of a sudden, this striking, horrible smell. I couldn’t believe it. I can still smell it, you know? Trash and waste were everywhere at sea. It was too much for me and I had to do something about it.
  • “My next project was around the world on a 60-foot boat. I was wondering, why I didn’t do oceanographic research on this trip? … September 2009 I made a decision: I will gather data on salinity and temperature for oceanographic research. … I had to find money for that. ... But at one point, you have to stop doubting your life and go for it.”