A day of triumph for sailor Alex

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Yachtsman Alex Thomson returned home to Gosport in triumph today.

He was met by crowds who braved the rain to greet him at Haslar Marina after he completed a round-the-world sailing race in record breaking time.

Alex Thomson celebrates on his yacht with some champagne after arriving at Gosport .''Picture: Sarah Standing (13346-8318)

Alex Thomson celebrates on his yacht with some champagne after arriving at Gosport .''Picture: Sarah Standing (13346-8318)

Alex told The News: ‘It feels quite strange for me to be back home having spent 80 days on my own.

‘So many people have followed my journey which is very humbling.

‘Thank you for coming out to see me in the pouring rain.’

Crowds gathered at vantage points around Portsmouth Harbour to welcome Alex home..

He said in a tweet to supporters this morning: ‘Not long now till I bring the boat back home to Gosport! Sorry about the rain!’

Alex, who beat the British record as he finished third in the solo non-stop Vendee Globe in just 80 days, led a parade of craft from Spinnaker Fort at 11am.

The flotilla passed the Round Tower and entered Portsmouth Harbour at midday and sailed past Gunwharf Quays and the naval base before turning across the harbour and looping back south, sailing to the southern tip of Haslar Marina before looping back again for Alex’s disembarkation at Haslar Pier.

Excited crowds had gathered this morning for the homecoming of Alex Thomson.

Despite the bad weather scores of people took to locations across the Portsmouth to watch the Gosport sailor arrive onboard a yacht joined by a stunning flotilla of boats.

Dave Hawthorn, 45, of Emsworth, has turned out at Haslar Marina with his son Reef, six, for the occasion.

Dave said: ‘We are on our way to the Submarine Museum but knew this was happening so we thought we would stop on the way.

‘We have just moved from Scotland and one of the reasons why we came here was because of the coast and maritime connections.

‘Anything that celebrates that is something we should make the most of.’

Among the many well-wishers, pupils of Alverstoke Junior School welcomed Alex back with a banner at the celebration.

Marissa Ballard, a year five teacher at the school said staff were encouraging as many pupils as possible to go and that some will follow the parade on parents’ boats.

Cllr Mark Hook, the leader of Gosport Borough Council said: ‘It’s not something you’ll see every day, the race is every four years and there will be a great atmosphere.

‘It’s a tremendous achievement by a really nice guy.’