ROUND the world yachtsman Alex Thomson waved goodbye to his Hampshire base yesterday as he set sail to join up with his rivals in the Vendee Globe race.

Thomson left Gosport on his 60ft yacht Hugo Boss bound for Les Sables d’Olonne in France ahead of the start of the 30,000-mile solo non-stop round the world race, writes WILL CARSON.

The 38-year-old has competed in the Vendee Globe, regarded as one of sailing’s toughest challenges, twice previously but has never finished it.

His chances of victory were all but ended before the start of the 2008 race when his boat was damaged by a fishing vessel while waiting to enter Les Sables d’Olonne marina.

“This feels like a very positive moment,” said Thomson prior to leaving the dock yesterday.

“We have got a few people on board because we want to avoid the disaster from four years ago.

“This year we are really confident with the boat and the team we have had behind the preparations the last few years.”

Thomson will line up against 19 of the world’s top sailors including fellow Hampshire racers Mike Golding and Sam Davies in the race, starting on November 10.


He first hit headlines in 1999 becoming the youngest ever skipper to win a round the world race, sailing his team to victory in the Clipper Round the World Race.

In the 2005 Velux 5 Oceans race Thomson was rescued from his sinking yacht in the Southern Ocean by Golding.

In July this year, Thomson set a new world record for the fastest solo crossing between New York and Cornwall, completing the course in eight days, 22 hours and eight minutes, smashing the existing record by more than a day.

See Will Carson's Sailing Spotlight in today's Daily Echo