Gosport sailor Alex Thomson is readying himself to embark on one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world today – the solo round-the-world race, the Vendée Globe.

The 38-year-old is in Les Sables d’Olonne with his boat, HUGO BOSS, and 19 other competitors waiting for the start of the race tomorrow.

“This really is one of the single most challenging sporting events in the world today,” said Thomson. “This is my third attempt. Only around 50 per cent of boats ever finish. My aim is to get around the world. Then I can think about winning.”

If he does, Alex will become the first Brit to ever win this prestigious event, which has been dominated by the French since its inception.

“It’s been such an amazing year for British sporting success,” said Thomson. “With Bradley Wiggins and then the Olympics, I only hope I can continue that run.”

Around the three major capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn, Thomson will battle the elements onboard HUGO BOSS, his 60-foot yacht, equipped with very few creature comforts for up to 90 days.

“There is no bed, no shower, no toilet,” said Thomson of his boat, which is built in much the same vein as a Formula One car, for speed and endurance.

Ahead of the race starting tomorrow, Thomson will be spending as much time as possible with his wife, Kate, and their 20-month-old son, Oscar.

“These last few days are hard, but there is so much support here,” he said. “From my family, my team, my sponsors, HUGO BOSS who have been with me since the beginning, to all my friends who have joined me out here, it feels amazing to have such support behind me. I just want to go do this now.”