British Skipper, Alex Thomson, has reached the Cape Leeuwin off Australia in a time of 29d 01hrs 28mins in the Vendee Globe. The second of the three great Capes, Thomson has now completed 45% of the solo, non-stop round the world race, with 13,500 miles to the finish. The next milestone is the infamous Cape Horn, where Thomson will turn the bow north again, and point HUGO BOSS towards the finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Both Thomson and French rival Armel Le Cléac’h have beaten the previous record to Cape Leeuwin set by Francois Gabart (Macif) in the 2012/2013 edition which he went on to win. Thomson is 5d 8hrs 55mins faster than this previous record, passing the cape just 5hrs 16mins behind Le Cléac’h.
Thomson has been locked in battle with Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h since the race start on November 6th, with the Frenchman reclaiming the lead from the Brit on 3rd December. Having rounded Cape Leeuwin, the duo will now head through the Pacific to Cape Horn where they will leave the ferocious South and head back through the South and then North Atlantic oceans crossing the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
Less than a week ago, the leading duo passed the Kerguelen Islands and were joined by a French Navy helicopter and Thomson told of his joy of seeing another living being for the first time since setting off on 6th November.
Thomson commented: “It was fantastic to be able to see people for the first time in months! I gave them a wave, went up on deck, and got my Union Jack flag out to wave the flag at them. It was a great moment.
“I was standing on deck going very fast, with the waves pouring over me and the helicopter pilot came and flew alongside me. He started flying the helicopter backwards – I was most impressed.”
The Vendée Globe takes place every four years and has historically been dominated by the French. This year’s edition sees 29 IMOCA 60s compete in the race, including Thomson, the only British entrant.
The race is renowned for being one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world. Just 71 of the 138 starters since the race’s inception, back in 1989, have successfully completed the race, and three have lost their lives along the way.
Thomson is determined to be the first British skipper to win the race, which could take in the region of 80 days to complete.