SAILING legend Alex Thomson has thanked his legion of local supporters – as well as his two-year-old son Oscar – for helping him achieve his lifelong dream.
The 38-year-old said messages from his wife Kate and son Oscar gave him a massive boost as he fought through the treacherous Southern Ocean on his solo round-the-world sail.
The Gosport-based skipper was only able to talk face-to-face with his beloved family once during the 80-day adventure.
But those two minutes on a video link helped spur him on as he was able to say a big happy birthday to his son
Alex spoke to The News at Haslar Marina after smashing the British record for sailing around the world single-handedly by eight days in the Vendee Globe race.
He said: ‘The hardest thing for me was leaving my family behind – particularly a two-year-old boy who was learning how to speak.
‘To miss a birthday and Christmas, it’s difficult.
‘Difficult for me, but in some ways more difficult for them.
‘Kate has to do double the work when I’m away.
‘We did one video bit where I said happy birthday.
‘Kate sent me a little voice recording of him every day with some pictures. I could see how his speech was progressing and that made a big difference to me.
‘All the tweets from the local gym, Hardy’s, it’s been absolutely brilliant.
‘I read all the tweets.
‘I love where I live. For me it’s quite a unique place. I love Gosport and if I’ve got a chance to promote it then great.’
Alex, who described the race as ‘brutal’, said the toughest moments came when his power generator broke.
‘It was tough because I basically had to stop using power,’ said Alex.
‘I had to close my computer down, I couldn’t make phone calls, no lights.
‘You are basically just shut down. I couldn’t even make enough water to be able to have a shave.’
Alex said he is still coming to terms with the enormity of his achievement.
He said: ‘The whole thing is a bit surreal because you’ve been on your own and suddenly you are surrounded by lots of people.
‘When you are out on the ocean you have a real understanding of how small we all are.
‘You come back more humble than you’ve ever been in your entire life and suddenly all these people think you’ve done something great. I’m still on a high.’
Years of dedication lead to triumphant moment
ALEX Thomson said coming third in the Vendee Globe was the culmination of ‘10 years of hard work’.
He said he is not committing himself to any other record-breaking challenges just yet.
Alex said: ‘I will take a rest and then figure out what the next big thing is going to be.
‘I know I will do the Vendee again. Winning it would be the next thing.
‘There’s lots of stuff to do in ocean racing, so we will just have to wait and see.’