Thomson set for second in Transat

Vendee Globe hopefuls. Front row, left to right: British skippers Brian Thompson. Phil Sharp, John Mackay, Steve White and Lawrence Mead, back row Peter Pantlin (Mike Golding's sponsor Gamesa), Stewart Hosford (Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss), Dee Caffari (Brit sailor), Denis Horeau (race manager) and Guillaume Henry (Vendee Globe CEO). Picture: Ingrid Abery
Vendee Globe hopefuls. Front row, left to right: British skippers Brian Thompson. Phil Sharp, John Mackay, Steve White and Lawrence Mead, back row Peter Pantlin (Mike Golding's sponsor Gamesa), Stewart Hosford (Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss), Dee Caffari (Brit sailor), Denis Horeau (race manager) and Guillaume Henry (Vendee Globe CEO). Picture: Ingrid Abery

Skipper chosen to lead youngsters on vessel’s sailings

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Alex Thomson was last night on course to take second place in the highly-competitive Transat Jacques Vabre race.

And barring any last minute disasters, the Gosport racer should cross the finish line off Puerto Limon in Costa Rica around lunchtime today – some 15 days after starting the two-handed race from Le Havre.

With Open 60 race leaders Jean-Pierre Dick and Jeremie Beyou aboard Virbac Paprec 3 expected in early this morning, Thomson and his co-skipper Guillermo Altadill on Hugo Boss continue to hold a comfortable second with a lead of more than 100 miles over rivals Banque Populaire.

That said, Thomson was taking nothing for granted as light winds were predicted for the run into the finish.

‘It does look like the last couple of hundred miles could get very light,’ said Thomson.

‘The opportunity for us to attack Virbac would be nice.

‘Hopefully it will not be too complicated and we will get our chance at the end.

‘I guess vice versa as well, though, the guys behind would get an opportunity to work on us.’

Veteran Warsash sailor Mike Golding, aboard Gamesa, had slipped to ninth and last in the survivors of the Open 60 class after a move south approaching the turning mark off the Dominican Republic failed.

Meanwhile, with a year to go to the start of the single-handed Vendée Globe round-the-world race, other British skippers still hoping to raise sponsorship to take part met in London.

Seven British IMOCA 60s competed in the 2008-9 Vendée Globe but only Thomson and Golding currently have the backing to make the Les Sables d’Olonne start line next November 10.

That leaves Portsmouth’s Sam Davies, Titchfield’s Dee Caffari, Brian Thompson from Cowes, Dorset’s Steve White, Cowes-based Oscar Mead, Phil Sharp and Scottish sailor John MacKay still hunting for funds.

Caffari has employed a sponsorship agency with an absolute deadline of Easter to secure funds.

‘I have to finish higher than sixth,’ she said, referring to her placing last time around.

‘I don’t want to just do another lap of the planet, I want to deliver a result.’

Alex Thomson Racing boss Stuart Hosford, former commercial director at Royal Bank of Scotland when he signed deals with Williams F1 and RBS Six Nations among others, said: ‘We have some fantastic sailors and some fantastic history, pedigree and heritage in this sport, but we have a problem.

‘We have got a perception issue and a confidence issue.’

Suggesting he could deliver, as managing director of sports marketing company 5 West, a Vendée campaign for just £1million, he added: ‘There is a superb opportunity here for a British company to step forward and create value from what is considered to be the world’s greatest sporting challenge – the Vendée Globe.’