Most races or solo attempts start from Europe. Due to the configuration of the continents, sailing around the world consists in sailing around the Antarctica continent, passing south of Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin. Since 1918 the Panama Canal is an option but the locks must be entered and exited using engine power. Large stretches of the canal can be crossed under sail power.
Sailing around the world can be done by two directions: eastward or westward. The dominant winds and currents (outside tropical areas) make the voyage eastwards on the Southern hemisphere faster, most skippers and yachts who race prefer this route. Today, the multihulls perform much better than monohulls and hold the best times. Leisure yacht skippers who prefer tropical seas more often go westward, using the Trade winds (and the Panama canal).
According to the WSSRC, for around the world sailing records, there is a rule saying that the length must be at least 21,600 nm calculated along the shortest possible track from the starting port and back that does not cross land and does not go below 63°S. The great-circle distance formulas are to be used, assuming that the great circle length is 21,600 nm. It is allowed to have one single waypoint to lengthen the calculated track. The equator must be crossed. In reality, this means that the boat should pass a waypoint at or not far from the antipode of the starting port of the journey (the exact position depends on how short the shortest possible track is). For example, the Vendée Globe starts at 46°N 2°W, has a waypoint at 57°S 180°E, and barely makes the distance requirement. The participants don't have to go to the antipode at 46°S 178°E since the rounding of Africa gives extra distance.
Roger Nilson , Lionel Lemonchois , Philippe Péché , Yann Elies , Ronan Le Goff , Sébastien Audigane , Jacques Caraes , Florent Chaste , Yves Le Blévec , Jean-Baptiste Epron , Nicolas de Castro , Ludovic Aglao et Bernard Stamm
Adrienne Cahalan (navigator) AUS , David Scully USA , Brian Thompson GB , Jacques Vincent FRA , Guillermo Altadill ESP , Mike Beasley NZL , Fraser Brown NZL , Mark Featherstone GB , Damian Foxall IRE , Nick Leggatt ZA , Justin Slattery IRE , Paul Van Dyke USA.