RECORD-breaking Hampshire sailor Alex Thomson is on course for a podium finish as the Vendee Globe reaches its climax.

Thomson, pictured, who comes from Gosport, is closing in on third place after French rival Jean Pierre Dick suffered a broken keel.

As of last night Thomson, was 834 nautical miles (nm) behind the leader Francois Gabart, but is rapidly closing in on his nearest rival, with only 16nm separating them. Thomson is expected to arrive at the finish in Les Sables D’Olonne on Tuesday but has not been without problems of his own, having had to use all his resourcefulness to fix hydrogenerators on his vessel, Hugo Boss, yesterday.

He will have every sympathy with Jean-Pierre if he catches him today.

“I am shocked and gutted at the news that JP Dick has lost his keel,” he said. “JP has sailed an awesome race and does not deserve this to happen to him. He has worked so hard and maintained his third position despite having to climb the mast countless times.”

Despite his rival’s bad luck, Thomson cannot afford any complacency. Vendee Globe expert Ross Daniel explained: “Alex will quite possibly experience the most challenging conditions of the race so far in these closing days of the Vendee Globe.”

Four of the leading five sailors are French but Southampton’s Mike Golding remains in sixth place.