The British racer, Alex Thomson, third in the last edition, was the 21st skipper to register for the Vendée Globe. He recently had a very scary moment, when his boat Hugo Boss was damaged in the Transat Jacques Vabre and he had to be airlifted off. Fortunately, they were later able to recover the boat. We talked to the sailor, who wants to become the first Brit to win the Vendée Globe.
Alex, is your official registration a symbolic step forward or do you see it more as the beginning of the countdown to the start?
The countdown for the VG 2016 started for our team right after the 2012 edition finished.
Looking back, the damage you suffered in the Transat Jacques Vabre must have been quite scary. Did you think at any time that you could have lost your brand new boat?
Yes, it was scary especially as I was asleep when the boat turned upside down, but also because we considered it impossible that an IMOCA 60 could capsize in these conditions. It was a bit nerve-wracking onboard the salvage tug going to rescue the boat but as soon as I could see her, I knew we would be OK.
Back at sea in March
Talking of that incident, how far advanced are the repairs? When will Hugo Boss be 100% operational again?
The repairs are going very well and we will be up and sailing in March with a plan to get as much time on the water as possible during the summer. A full structural review has been completed and although we are comfortable that the design is fit for purpose, we are working with Guillaume Verdier and VPLP to add some additional structure for security.
Which races on the calendar do you intend to compete in before the start of the next Vendée Globe?
We will be taking part in the New York to Les Sables d’Olonne race starting on the 29th May.
Looking at the foils, before you were forced to retire from the Transat Jacques Vabre, what were your first impressions? Are you currently developing these appendages?
We have only sailed the boat for less than two weeks, so it is hard to make firm conclusions about the foils. That being said, the foils have shown real promise in certain conditions. Before we develop we need to fully understand the performance of the foils.
In France, people say that you are utterly determined to become the first Brit to win the Vendée Globe. Is that still on the cards for you?
Our objective for this VG is to win, I am confident that come November we will have the package that can secure that ambition.
What is it that really attracts you so much to this race?
The VG is a fascinating project to be part of and it is relentless from start to finish, not just for the skippers, but for the teams as well. In my view it is a team event and I love the technical aspects as well as the sailing.
by Vendée Globe