British sailor Alex Thomson has this morning finished second in the 2016-17 Vendee Globe around the world race. The race that takes place every four years was won by Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h beating the previous record by three days, 22 hours and 41 minutes. Thomson’s runner up time of 74 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes was also faster than the previous world record set in 2013.
In the 2013 race, Thomson’s Hugo Boss Boat finished third and he described his second-place finish as ‘’a fantastic result.’’ Despite falling short in his attempt to become the first ever non-French winner of the competition, he did match the best ever finish by a British sailor after Dame Ellen MacArthur’s second place finish in 2001 and also did it in a better time.
On Wednesday, it looked like Thomson could have a good chance of overtaking Le Cleac’h after he cut the Frenchman’s lead to just 34 miles with 309 miles remaining before his autopilot malfunctioned. His race was full of technical difficulties with his starboard foil breaking after just 13 days into the challenge. He admitted had these problems not happened the outcome could have been different. He said “I spent the whole race thinking ’what if?’ and I’ve had the frustrations but I don’t really want to talk about it anymore. It happened, it’s finished, it’s over.”
During the course of the race Thomson broke three world records. Reaching the tip of South Africa after just 17 days, 22 hours and 58 minutes he broke the record by more than five days. He then became the fastest man to reach the Equator beating the record set by Jean Le Cam in 2004. Finally, on Monday he broke the world record for the greatest distance sailed solo in 24 hours travelling a staggering 536.8 miles.
The Vendee Globe around the world race is considered one of the toughest events on the planet and having come third and second in the last two competition’s, speculation has been rife as to whether the Welshman will return in 2020-21 to try and finally win the event. He said “We’ll have to see. I think if I can put together a competitive campaign and we can take the level to the next one, I’d very interested to do the next one. I’d best ask my wife first.”