The Vendee Globe is a grueling non-stop round-the-world race for single-handed sailors; it takes three months and traverses some of the most dangerous waters on the planet. Those less committed than the thirty racers can still get a taste of the action online: Virtual Regatta has over 300,000 players and uses weather data from the real-life Vendee Globe to challenge its players.
Virtual participants are presented with a simple dashboard showing a compass, windspeed and weather map. They can change course and sails and chart their progress compared with the boats of friends or rivals. The yachts are programmed to react like the 60ft boats in the real race.
Online skippers are placed in the middle of the field to give them a chance to catch up. Serious players check their co-ordinates every few minutes and many even get up at night to do so. Registration is free but extra features such as auto-pilot come at a small fee.