Thomson proud of Route du Rhum domination – despite costly penalty

Alex Thomson onboard HUGO BOSS Picture: Alex Thomson Racing
Alex Thomson onboard HUGO BOSS Picture: Alex Thomson Racing
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Alex Thomson said he was proud of his efforts in the Route du Rhum - despite having to concede the IMOCA title to rival Paul Meilhat.

On Friday, the Gosport skipper of HUGO BOSS was the first to cross the line in the race to Pointe-à Pitre, Guadeloupe, having set off from Saint Malo, France, on November 4.

Yet he was penalised after running aground at the north end of Grande Terre on La Pointe à Claude - 50 nautical miles from the finish line.

That left the 44-year-old with no option but to utilise his engine to rescue both himself and the boat from a potentially life-threatening situation. 

It also resulted in Thomson being handed a 24-hour penalty by the Race International Jury, which presented Meilhat with the class victory.

Thomson admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow after 11 days, 23 hours, 10 minutes and 58 seconds racing.

He was also 140 nautical miles ahead of his French counterpart when the grounding happened.

Yet, staying positive, Thomson was delighted with the way he dominated the world-famous race.

'I wanted to attack from the outset and lead from the front, and that’s what I was able to do,' said Thomson. 

'The storms were ferocious and the conditions were brutal but I was able to overcome that and I’m incredibly proud of the way I raced and the way HUGO BOSS performed.

'Of course, this is a bitter pill to swallow but it’s something we learn from. 

'I am obviously devastated but there are a lot of positives to take away from this. 

'We were quite clearly the fastest boat in the fleet, we reached a new top speed for HUGO BOSS of 38.5knots and, from the very start, I felt that I sailed a great race. 

'Regardless of the penalty that has been handed to us, I’m proud of our team and the way that we were able to dominate'.

The Route du Rhum marked Thomson’s final race onboard the current HUGO BOSS boat. 

In the summer of 2019 he will unveil a new multi-million pound race yacht on which he hopes to win the 2020 Vendée Globe.