Sailing hero Alex Thomson could quit Gosport

Alex Thomson
Alex Thomson

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SAILING hero Alex Thomson could quit the area and set sail for another port if he cannot find a new base here.

Round-the-world skipper Alex, who is based in Gosport, said his team needs a better facility in the town.

He said a decision will be made in the next six months as he is preparing to take part in the 2016 Vendee Globe.

Speaking to The News, Alex, who is from Gosport, said: ‘I’d love to stay here – everything we’ve got is here and I’m from Gosport.

‘It’s difficult to see where we could have a facility. The facilities can be built – the problem is there’s no land. I imagine we would have to make the decision in six months.’

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It comes as Stewart Hosford, managing director of sports consultancy Five West and Alex Thomson Racing, warned yesterday that other port cities had been in touch.

Speaking about the firm’s set-up at a marine industry networking morning Mr Hosford said: ‘It’s not quite fit for purpose. We’re committed to this town and harbour. We’ve grown up in Gosport.

‘But it’s quite difficult to take someone somewhere that’s got no wow factor.’

He explained the firm uses a number of locations across the town including the Sanderson Business Centre, Premier Marinas and Haslar Marina.

He added: ‘There’s probably two locations in Gosport in the harbour that can have professional racing teams. One of them is in Fort Blockhouse and the other is the retained area at Royal Clarence Yard.’

But he said if other cities offer a facility that meets their needs then the firm, which employs 30 people, will move.

As reported, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to hand over the retained area at Royal Clarence to Gosport Borough Council. The council hopes to create a marine business hub at the site.

But sailor Alex said he wants to see disused MoD land put into use, adding: ‘For me Fort Blockhouse is the diamond.

‘I remember doing a paper round in my teenage years – one of my jobs was to deliver to the mess at HMS Dolphin and it was rammed. You see the place today nobody uses it.’

Any race team would need deep water berths to accommodate the boats.

Peter Cardy, of Gosport Marine Scene, said the risk of losing Alex Thomson Racing shows the town must be able to host a base for the team: ‘They bring prestige, jobs and money into the town,’ he said. ‘We’ve got all the potential to give them and the facilities they need to be successful.’