British solo sailor, Alex Thomson has smashed the single-handed monohull transatlantic record, by more than 24 hours, crossing the finish line at Lizard Point, off Falmouth in Cornwall, in time to get back for the London Olympic Opening ceremony.
The 38 year old sailor crossed the line at 17:17 GMT (18:17 BST) setting the new time at 8 days 22 hours 8 minutes, beating the previous record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which had been held for 10 years.
“It has been a long few days,” said Alex. “The first half from New York was great with weather conditions in our favour, but things started to slow down the closer I got. But the wind has held out this morning and it’s so fantastic to have broken this record.”
Alex set sail from New York on July 17th at 19.09GMT to cover 2800 nautical miles in a quest to break the record for what is officially known as the ‘West to East Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point Under 60ft Single-Handed Monohull Record, Male’, which sat at 10 days, 55 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Swiss sailor Bernhard Stamm 10 years ago.
His secondary aim was to get home in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in order to support Chairman and good friend, Sir Keith Mills.
“When I set off I had no idea if I was going to be able to do it. And it has been hard. Lack of sleep, broken instruments on the boat and constant exposure to the elements has really taken it out of me. But it’s such a good feeling to have beaten it by such a great margin,” said Alex.
But the record breaking achievement is only half of the story. Alex is in fact lining up to attempt to be the first Brit ever to win the gruelling single-handed round-the-world race, the Vendee Globe, leaving from France in November on board his 60ft monohull, HUGO BOSS. And this record breaking achievement puts him in good stead.
“This record attempt was also a training exercise for the Vendee Globe,” said Alex. “We felt this record attempt would put me under real pressure and stimulate race conditions and I have felt a real value in it.”
He is one of three British competitors who will take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world yacht race starting in Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on November 10th. Currently only 50% of attempts to complete the race have been successful in the race known as the ‘Everest of sailing’
Having already tried his hand at foiling, last week round the world sailor Alex Thomson went keel walking on his IMOCA Open 60 HUGO BOSS in the Solent.
“I’ve wanted to stand on the keel while sailing for a couple of years, and last week in 17-20 knots of breeze I stood on the keel whilst sailing wearing a HUGO BOSS suit. It was pretty dangerous but a real buzz.”
In 2005 Alex became the first skipper to sign up for the 3 in 3 – 3 round the world races in 3 years starting with the Velux 5 Oceans in 2006, followed by the Barcelona World Race (BWR) in November 2007, and culminating in the 2008 Vendee Globe
Alex was forced to retire from the Velux 5 Oceans due to severe structural problems. He overcame the Southern Ocean by achieving a second place podium finish in the Barcelona World Race. Whilst on this race Alex smashed the 60ft monohull world distance record and was in excellent shape for the Vendée Globe.
However, only 3 weeks before the Vendée was due to commence, Alex was dramatically struck by a French fishing vessel. His team fought against the clock to finish the repairs in record time to achieve the impossible – and get Alex to the start line. Alex’s dreams to become the first Briton to win the much coveted title were shattered after only 3 days racing; when he discovered HUGO BOSS was letting in water from structural failure to the hull. Devastated, Alex announced his retirement from the Vendée. He is determined to return and compete in the 2012
Record breaking yachtsman Alex Thomson has been making the most of HUGO BOSS being back in the water and enjoying some ‘foiling’ off his IMOCA Open 60 in the Solent.
Alex, always one for a challenge was thrilled to get out on the water and found the ‘foiling’ an exhilarating experience and was able to execute some complex moves thanks to the technology of the Carafino ‘Hydrofoil’ board, one of the most highly innovative designs available.
“The conditions were perfect with good breeze and sunshine adding to the feel good factor on the day. I haven’t been ‘foiling’ before but I loved it. It’s pretty extreme – at a certain speed the hull is lifted above the water and the craft skims along on the hydrofoils at great speeds. It’s like snowboarding, just on water,” explained Alex.
Richard Thompson from Carafino UK was on board Hugo Boss with Alex last week and was hugely impressed with not only the Open 60, but also with Alex.
“What a guy! He has this tremendous confidence with the water you don’t see very often and was straight up and gone first time. His level of fitness is staggering and served him well on the Hydrofoil, I really was blown away by his performance. Alex looked completely at ease and was in control all the time.”
After a turbulent end to 2008 Alex is now focusing on the next four years. Alex and HUGO BOSS will compete in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race in August and the double-handed Transat Jacque Vabres in November before focusing on the Barcelona World Race in 2010. Before that though Alex is currently sailing HUGO BOSS to Monaco ready for the Monaco Grand Prix 21-24 May, as part of the Hugo Boss VIP hospitality programme