HE’S an inspiration to us all.
That was the overwhelming verdict from families as they poured out their pride for sailing legend Alex Thomson.
It’s fantastic being home with the family; to be able to sleep in my own bed and bring the children in for cuddles.Alex Thomson
The Gosport hometown hero was showered with adoration as supporters thronged the shoreline in anticipation of his return following his stunning achievements in solo round-the-world challenge The Vendee Globe.
Waving flags, banners and chanting his name, followers joined by a small army of dignitaries ensured the elite athlete’s homecoming party was one to remember.
Soaking up the atmosphere after stepping off his Hugo Boss yacht with son Oscar, five, the 42-year-old said: ‘When you are out there, you are really isolated, you don’t get a feel of it.
‘When you come back and you get a massive welcome, it’s amazing.’
Superstar Alex – who finished the Vendee Globe solo yacht race last month in just 74 days, matching Dame Ellen MacArthur as the best ever Briton in the race as she also finished runner-up in 2001 – is now setting his sights on being crowned the king of the world’s hardest sailing contest.
He said: ‘The next big project will be putting together a competitive challenge for the 2021 Vendee Globe.
‘We have to get the right team together and hopefully bring home a British winner.’
Nick Groom, 55, who rooted for Alex with wife Gina, 45, and their children William, nine, and Hannah, six, said: ‘It’s a fantastic achievement. I can’t imagine how he must have felt sitting out on a yacht in the south Atlantic on his own with no help. He is an inspiration.’
Keen sailor Roly Rowland, 48, said: ‘He is a true inspiration; his achievements are phenomenal.
Melanie Brown, 29, said: ‘He pushes himself to the limits and his determination to keep going when he was a long way away from first place is amazing.
‘He never gave up.’
Alex added: ‘It’s fantastic being home with the family; to be able to sleep in my own bed and bring the children in for cuddles.
‘When you come home, you end up appreciating everything that much more.’
Mayor of Gosport, Councillor Lynn Hook, paid tribute.
She said: ‘Alex Thomson is a local lad and when he goes on these sails he always mentions that he’s from Gosport.’