Thomson tells of 'most terrifying' moment of his life

Alex Thomson, now out of the Velux 5 Oceans, solo, two-stop round the world race, recalls the incident which cost him the contest:


“This has been without doubt the most terrifying and emotional experience of my life. This yacht has been my life for three years. It’s wrong to leave her down here and I would have done anything to save her. But to be stranded in big seas 1000 nautical miles from land, with an irreparable keel which was swinging uncontrollably, I really had no other choice. It was very distressing to look back and see HUGO BOSS in such a sorry state. I am hugely grateful to Mike for turning back to rescue me. The operation was fairly hairy and the sea was lumpy which wasn’t very pleasant for either myself or Mike. At one point I caught my hand between the life raft and ECOVER and it wasn’t until this point, when I cut my hand, that I thought to myself ‘this is actually quite scarey’. It took four attempts for me to board Mike’s yacht, but all things considered it went very well and I am hugely relieved to be in the warmth and safety of ECOVER’S cabin.”


Mike Golding will now return to full racing mode and continue sailing towards Fremantle, Australia. He has asked Alex Thomson not to assist in any way and will apply for re-dress to the race committee, meaning that ECOVER will not be penalized as a result of the rescue. Sadly this is the end of the VELUX 5 Oceans for Alex Thomson. His attention must now turn to the future and his campaign to be the first Briton to win the Vendee Globe on his new yacht which will come out of the shed in April.

Tanya Brookfield, Managing Director of Alex Thomson Racing commented: “Having worked with Alex for the last four years, I have watched him grow and develop both as an individual and as a professional racer. He has always possessed an extraordinary degree of natural talent and drive but the maturity he has demonstrated throughout not only this recent exercise, but throughout this race, has really impressed me and reminded us all of why we (his team) do what we do. His decision to abandon his pride and joy, HUGO BOSS, was gut wrenching and not reached lightly. I think the rest of us can only begin to imagine how it must have felt to look back at HUGO BOSS from the deck of ECOVER this morning and watch her slowly disappear from view. The much commented on banter and on-the-water rivalry between Mike and Alex has today been put into prospective as the two skippers breathed a sigh of relief when Alex finally boarded ECOVER and the two embraced in a manly hug.

“On behalf of Alex and the rest of the team, I would just like to thank all those of you who have texted, emailed or phoned – your support has been invaluable and has really kept us going. Now that Alex is safe onboard, the team here will scale down and try get some rest, as it’s been a very long 26 hours.”