Alex Thomson locked in battle for first place

Alex Thomson reached the half way point in the solo, unassisted, non-stop Vendée Globe race today.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 5:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:51 pm
Alex Thomson on HUGO BOSS Picture: Lloyd Images

The Gosport sailor, who has been locked in battle with Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h since the race began on November 6, was sitting in second place as he passed the half-way mark – the tip of New Zealand’s south island.

It is set to be a physical weekend for the leading duo as they will be met by strong winds and heavy seas as they cross the Tasman Sea.

They will be sailing into a low that has developed over Tasmania, which is generating winds in excess of forty knots.

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Thomson is now sailing on the starboard tack and should be able to make the most of his intact port foil to regain some of the miles he lost to Armel over the past few days.

The next milestone for the skipper is the infamous Cape Horn, where he will turn the bow north again and point HUGO BOSS towards the finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

Thomson said: ‘There are a few hectic days to come and I will certainly be approaching them with caution to make sure that I keep HUGO BOSS in one piece.

‘I am in second place at the moment, roughly 100 miles behind the leader, Armel Le Cléac’h.

‘It’s over 1000 miles behind me to third place, so at least I have some breathing space behind so I can worry about looking forwards, which I think is really important.’

The Vendée Globe takes place every four years and has historically been dominated by the French.

This year’s edition sees 29 IMOCA 60s compete in the race, including Thomson, the only British entrant.

The race is renowned for being one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world. Just 71 of the 138 starters since the race’s inception, back in 1989, have successfully completed the race, and three have lost their lives along the way.

Thomson is determined to be the first British skipper to win the race, which could take in the region of 80 days to complete.