PEOPLE are used to seeing sailor Alex Thomson’s sleek black Hugo Boss yacht slipping in and out of Haslar Marina.
But the vessel he hopes will shoot him across the finish line of the upcoming Vendée Globe looks more like a gleaming silver bullet.
The Gosport sailor has unveiled his new-look boat six months before the start of the major round-the-world race.
It will be the third time Alex, 37, has taken part in the Vendée Globe, having been forced to abandon his last two attempts.
Now with the careful planning of his team and a refitted yacht, Alex is ready to pack in some training before the start of the race.
He said: ‘This is as confident as I have been going into the Vendée Globe.
‘The first time it was all about winning, the second time it was about starting, and now I want to finish.
‘This is a personal thing for me – I have to finish.
‘Having started two makes it a little less emotional but it does help because you know what to expect.’
Alex sails from Gosport today to start several journeys ahead of the Vendée Globe.
The 37-year-old will put the boat through its paces in two gruelling transatlantic record attempts before the race in November.
Today he sails for Monte Carlo, before crossing from Cadiz, in Spain, to San Salvador.
Then he will head for New York before crossing back over the ocean to Plymouth to simulate the pressure of race conditions.
Meanwhile the racing team will stay at their base in Gosport’s Haslar Marina to test their communications and support.
Alex added: ‘We’re in Haslar and we’re here to stay.
‘You would have to go to France to find somewhere better than this.
‘Everything that we could possibly need is here in Gosport.
‘We’ve been here for years so in that time we’ve built up a network.’
Alex first attempted the Vendée Globe in 2004 but was forced to retire after suffering damage.
The next time, in 2008, his boat was struck by a French fishing vessel three weeks before the start.
His team battled to repair the yacht but three days into the race the Hugo Boss started letting in water, putting a premature end to the attempt.
Stewart Hosford, the managing director of Alex Thomson Racing, said he had high hopes for this attempt: ‘Having worked with Alex over the last few years I know he is in a really strong place.
‘We are well prepared and we have got a good boat.
‘We have got a good shot going into this race.’
He added: ‘I think the new boat looks great and we are pretty proud of it.
‘For this boat going into the Vendée Globe we wanted to do something very different.’
Alex still holds the title of being the youngest skipper ever to win a round-the-world race, after he took victory in the Clipper Round the World Race in 1999.