Alex Thomson : "Whether I do 2016, I don’t know but I am sure that I’ll do the Vendée Globe again"
Wednesday 30 January 2013 –
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Will you learn to speak French for the next Vendée Globe?
I did take a French language CD with me on the computer, and they are still there! I ran out of power.
What advice would you give to young skippers looking to set out on a path to the Vendée Globe?
In England we are very fortunate in having the Artemis Academy for short handed sailing. They have supported it well, there are some good people coming through the ranks and I sincerely hope we see some more British entries coming through in the next Vendée Globe. But the popularity of what happens here is very different to what happens at home in Britain. And I was very lucky this race with our team, we managed to hook up with the BBC once a week and I spoke live with seven million people in the UK, and hopefully if we can increase the popularity and get more media Media #media coverage at home then we are more likely to have more international skippers in this race who are able to enjoy Les Sables d’Olonne’s hospitality
What has made the difference in terms of the lower attrition rate this time, does improved preparation contribute?
For me preparation is everything. In the last Vendée Globe we had 30 starters and 11 finishers and I think we all said that was not acceptable. That was too many people dropping out. The big difference between this and the last race is the level and professionalism of the preparation. And I know today we still have nine boats still on the course. We have had three accidents, two of them extraordinary with other boats and one with a floating buoy, so actually today only 25% of the boats of the Vendée Globe have not finished because of technical problems. I put most of that down to preparation. It is a real credit to the skippers, the teams, IMOCA and I am sure the organisers of the Vendée Globe must be very happy with the situation today.
Just describe how tough you found the race?
I think the hardest part of the race was from the start to Cape Horn. For me the Southern Ocean is so tough but the first part is so hard because you have not raced for weeks. Everybody is ‘balls to the wall’. Everyone is 100% and you just do not sleep. You struggle to sleep. And then you cant wait to get on the highway on the Southern Ocean, and you get on the highway and you remember how bloody dangerous it is down there, how isolated it is, how scared you are and that for me was the toughest part of the race.
And did you feel disadvantaged not to have a newer generation boat?
I have to say I did find it frustrating at times that every time I would get to a position which was good that they would just sail away from me. But that was a choice. We made a choice over the last four years and it was the wrong choice. And so we did not have a new boat for this edition. On the other hand for the first five weeks of the race I was in the lead group. And the way it made me feel better was I was thinking that the other skippers would be thinking ‘when is he ever going to bugger off’, why is he still here?’ I feel like I sailed my boat to 100% of its potential. I feel like I did a good job. I made mistakes but I feel very satisfied with that.
What was you arrival like, it is something new for you?
When I was coming in to the finish and the first boat came out and beeped a horn, I did not know what to expect after such a long time, but when you enter that canal with all those thousands of people who have made the effort to come and appreciate the effort you have done, you feel really good in your heart. And it makes it very easy to come back to lots of people.
And the level of stress for you, does it rise proportionately through the race?
For me the level of stress is high right at the beginning. You are not used to it. You have been sleeping in beds for too long. And there are lots of boats around and you just go, go, go. The first part of the race is most stressful. And for me, in particular, the Pacific Ocean was very stressful, just because of the weather conditions.
There have, again, been some keel problems, what do we need to do?
In the last Vendée Globe we had a problem with keels, and we thought we had fixed the problem, Unfortunately it seems we still have a problem and we need to sort the problem. To me it is not acceptable to have keels fall off boats any more. In the old days, not that long ago, keels used to stay with the boat for the whole of their lives. Now it seems it seems like keels are more disposable than their masts. So I really hope that after this race, when IMOCA sits down that we take some sensible decisions and make the keels last forever. Just to be clear I am not being critical of any team or any skipper. The problem is as skippers and teams we are trying to find an advantage where it is not interesting, there is too much risk involved. I hope we end up in a situation where developing keels and adding risk to our adventures does not happen.
And what are the plans for the future, for 2013 and 2014?
I don’t know yet. I think I will take a rest after this. We will sit down with our sponsors Hugo Boss and finding out what we do in 2013. We are not too sure at the moment
You wanted a cheeseburger on your arrival, was that the sweetest cheeseburger you have ever had?
It was a cordon bleu cheeseburger, it really was fantastic. But I have to say I wanted a Big Mac. I have been dreaming of the Golden Arches
View online : Info presse www.alexthomsonracing.com
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Vendée Globe : Armel Le Cléac’h, second of the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe
Vendée Globe : François Gabart has won the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe
Solo around the world : Solo skipper Guo Chuan became the first Chinese to round Cape Horn
Construction navale : CDK Technologies, the other winner of the Vendée Globe