Alex Thomson today began his bid to become the first British sailor ever to win one of the most gruelling sporting challenges on the planet, the Vendée Globe.
The Vendée Globe is a single-handed, non-stop, unassisted race around the world. Often termed ‘the Everest of Sailing’, the race – which comes around just every three years – pushes sailors to their very limits, requiring them to compete alone at sea for around three months, without stopping or setting foot on dry land.
Thomson departed from the race start line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, today alongside 28 other sailors. For Thomson, this was the final opportunity to bid his wife, Kate, son, Oscar (5) and daughter, Georgia (2) farewell.
After successfully completing the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe and crossing the finishing line in third place, Thomson – who is sponsored by HUGO BOSS and Mercedes-Benz – will this year seek to make history and become the first British sailor ever to win the iconic race.
He will do so on-board his new £4.5m IMOCA 60 race boat, HUGO BOSS – a yacht which, after more than two years in the making, was unveiled at the end of 2015. Thomson and his team have spent the past four years training, preparing and developing cutting edge technologies which they believe will place them in the very best position to win the race this time around.
“After four years, the day has finally arrived.” said Thomson. “The team has worked incredibly hard to get HUGO BOSS ready and I am confident that we now have a boat which is genuinely capable of winning the race. Of course, today is bitter sweet for me. I get to enjoy the atmosphere as thousands of people gather to wave myself and the other sailors off, but I also have to say goodbye to my wife and children, which never gets easier as time goes on.
“The next time they see me, I hope to be crossing the finish line on board HUGO BOSS in first place. That would be an incredibly special moment not only for myself and my team, but for British sport as a whole.”
So extreme is the 26,000 nautical mile Vendée Globe, that just 71 of the 138 sailors who have ever attempted to complete the race have successfully made the finish line. Three, meanwhile, have lost their lives along the way.
CEO of Alex Thomson Racing, Stewart Hosford, said: “The team has been working around the clock to ensure that, when this moment came, we would be in the best possible position. And I feel confident that that’s exactly where we are. We have a boat which is incredibly fast, a fantastic team, and a skipper who is committed to completing the challenge and making history. We wish Alex the very best of luck and we’ll be with him every step of the way.”