19 Photos That Prove The Volvo Ocean Race Is The World's Toughest Competition

Established in 1973, the Volvo Ocean Race pits a group of exceptionally talented sailors (many of whom are Olympians when not on the water for this thing) against each other in what many consider to be the most rugged form of the sport today. Once they've qualified, teams are signed up for a 9-month long journey that will take them over 39,000 nautical miles, the longest distance of any official race...ever. While on this odyssey the teams will be almost completely isolated from the world. Each boat has advanced communication towers allowing them to stay remotely in touch with the mainland, but at least 9 times throughout the 9 months of competition they will be in what is known as no man's land, the exact midpoint where rescue should something catastrophic go wrong becomes nearly impossible.

Scroll through the gallery below to get a taste for what these teams are up against right now, and hit up their website to watch more of the action unfold live in real time.