Part of complete coverage on
Voyage of a lifetime: Could you sail around the world?
September 3, 2013 -- Updated 0924 GMT (1724 HKT)
- Clipper Round the World Yacht Race kicks off in London
- Over 500 amateur sailors will face harshest conditions on the planet
- From three-meter waves to sweltering seas, do you have what it takes?
- Explore our interactive map to see what lies ahead for crews
Editor's note: Scroll across the world to see Clipper route. Click on icons to learn more.
(CNN) -- Could you survive on four hours sleep a day? What about coming face-to-face with waves the size of three-storey buildings? Or not seeing your loved ones for an entire year?
As the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race set sail from London on Sunday, 670 amateur sailors will soon find out if they have what it takes to complete one of the most grueling sporting challenges known to man -- sailing around the globe.
Over the next year they will travel through the harshest conditions on the planet -- facing everything from wild storms in the Southern Ocean, to frustratingly calm seas near the equator.
Read: The people who quit their jobs to sail around the world
Meet America's Cup flying hi-tech boats
103-year-old beauty's film debut
Looking back at America's Cup tragedy
The 12 yachts, each measuring 21 meters, will visit 15 ports on six continents. While some sailors will join for a month-long leg of the journey, others will quit their jobs and say goodbye to their family and friends for the full 11-month circumnavigation.
But despite the almost superhuman challenge ahead of them, many of the competitors had until recently never set sail in their life. From 18-year-old students to 70-year-old retirees, the gutsy sailors taking part in this year's race will -- quite literally -- be thrown in the deep end.
"For most people it will be the first time they're sleeping and living on a boat for a long period of time," said Nik Brbora, who completed the 2012 race.
"They'll have to get used to the uncomfortable conditions, lack of sleep, and shift work -- usually four hours on, four hours off. Then there's the weather -- in all your training you can't really experience your first big storm," added the 29-year-old IT engineer from London.
Read: How to sail around the world for free
Founded in 1996 by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston -- the first person to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in 1969 -- the Clipper Race revolves around the notion anyone can circumnavigate the globe, regardless of their experience.
The only selection criteria is people must be over 18, pass a three-week sailing course and be physically fit enough to complete the epic voyage.
But at around £43,000 ($67,000) per person for a full year-long voyage, it's not simply a huge physical undertaking, but a significant financial one.
Read: Wisdom from the sea: 'React fast or be swept away'
"It's a little bit like moving country -- you have to say goodbye to everyone you know. All your possessions are broken down into one bag for an entire year," said Brbora.
"The Clipper motto is that 'anyone can do it.' I was just an average guy working in the city, not a massive adventurer like Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. But I did it, and I've come out of it so much stronger and with so much more self-belief."
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Over 300 miles from the nearest ocean, competitors in one of the world's fastest sailing races prepare for battle.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
London's new superyacht hotel is so enormous, authorities had to lower the water level by five meters just to fit it under a bridge.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
His mast-walking stunts have attracted over 3.5 million hits on YouTube, but Alex Thomson just wants to get back to doing what he does best.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Elizabeth Meyer talks to CNN's Mainsail about the "Armageddon battle" to restore the pioneering J-class boat Endeavour.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
Ship captains of the future won't be salty sea dogs with their hand at the helm, and the ocean at their feet.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
Like "Downton Abbey," Henley's Royal Regatta reminds its visitors of an England of old. But for how much longer?
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Nine months at sea, one change of clothes, freeze-dried food and a strange language. Could you cope?
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Can a $134 million budget and the royal seal of approval bring the coveted America's Cup back to British shores for the first time in sailing history?
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Bored of lounging on your superyacht in the Mediterranean? An increasing number of millionaires are now sailing their luxury vessels to the ends of the Earth, to get their kicks.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
He's one of the great landscape artists, but JMW Turner also had a watery passion -- and his maritime travels are being retraced.
May 20, 2014 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
How do you get a foot on the property ladder, when you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world? The answer may lie in the water...
May 6, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Quadriplegic yachtswoman Hilary Lister was saved from suicide through the sport of sailing. Now she is plotting a voyage across the Atlantic.
Today's five most popular stories