Gosport sailor hailed as favourite as epic 3,500 mile race begins

A GOSPORT sailor is leading the charge in a 3,500 mile ocean race to the Caribbean.

Alex Thomson, captain of the Alex Thomson Racing team, has set sail on the Route du Rhum race – racing from Saint-Malo in France to Pointe-à Pitre in Guadeloupe.

Gosport yachtsman Alex Thomson on board his IMOCA Open60 race yacht 'Hugo Boss' at the start of the race. Picture: Lloyd Images

Gosport yachtsman Alex Thomson on board his IMOCA Open60 race yacht 'Hugo Boss' at the start of the race. Picture: Lloyd Images

The Gosport sailor, taking part in the race for the first time, is being touted as one of the favourites.

Speaking ahead of the race, Alex said: ‘It’s great to be here in Saint-Malo. This is one of my favourite French cities and I can’t quite believe how many people have travelled here to see the boats depart. It’s just incredible.

‘For me, this race is a real opportunity to test myself and push the boat in order to deliver what we know she is capable of.

‘We saw from the last Vendée Globe that Hugo Boss is one of, if not the, fastest IMOCA in the fleet so I’m excited to see what we can do in this race.’

But while the bookies rate him highly, Alex Thomson has stressed the need to ‘race intelligently’.

He explained: ‘I’m a very competitive person so of course I’m aiming to win but reliability is also key.

‘It’s important that we remember that, while this is a shorter distance and so, in my mind, a sprint to the finish line, we also need to race intelligently in order to ensure that we finish the race.’