British sailor Alex Thomson has announced he won’t compete as a skipper in the 2024 Vendée Globe, the solo, non-stop race around-the-world, but doesn’t rule out returning to the race in 2028.
Thomson has competed on the IMOCA circuit for 19 years including five successive Vendée Globe’s with two podium finishes and numerous world records.
“I have had the privilege to compete and race IMOCA 60s for almost 20 years. I love the sport but it’s now time for me to spend more time on land, with my young family. My wife Kate has single-handedly raised our children for the last 10 years whilst I have pursued my dream. Now I want to support Kate and allow her the same opportunity that she has given me. This doesn’t mean that I am retiring, just changing my role, from spending most of my time at sea, to spending more of it on land.”
“Aside from being a skipper, I have always believed that it is my role to be an ambassador for our sport, telling the story to an international audience. In the last 20 years we have sailed to every corner of the globe, from Russia to Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan and even up the River Yangtze to Shanghai, China! There is a huge global fanbase who follow and love the Vendée Globe. I want to continue to promote the sport, tell the story and share my knowledge and experience, but with a focus on the next generation,” said Thomson.
Thomson and his team 5 West Ltd will remain together.
“The goal has always been to win the Vendée Globe, which to me remains the toughest sporting challenge left in the world today, and we haven’t accomplished that yet. This is the start of a new chapter, with a new skipper, and we will provide him or her with all the tools, knowledge, experience and environment to win.”
In the 20 years since Thomson first appeared on the IMOCA 60 scene, the sport of offshore sailing has changed considerably; the yachts have evolved to push the boundaries of technology and innovation in a similar way to Formula 1. Thomson and his team have developed with the sport too, both on and off the water. As well as attracting a global audience with award winning stunts like the “Mastwalk” and “Skywalk”, Thomson’s team have produced some of the most ground-breaking IMOCA’s 60s in the last 10 years.
Technical Director Ross Daniel, who has worked alongside Thomson for 20 years said “After eight round the world race campaigns, we have learned an enormous amount. We have designed and built some of the most innovative boats within the class and our 2016 boat was seen as the reference boat of its generation. We are going to continue to use our experience in designing and building boats and running successful campaigns and I am looking forward to the next campaign leading to the Vendée Globe in 2024.”
Reflecting on his racing career Thomson said: “Obviously none of what we have achieved would have been possible without our partners, and I am eternally grateful to HUGO BOSS for the support and loyalty they have shown me. Together we have inspired and engaged people all over the world for 18 years and become a leading brand within the sport of sailing. I am so thankful to have worked so closely with the team at HUGO BOSS, working alongside so many creative and inspiring people, many of whom will remain lifelong friends.”
Four years ago, Thomson was also joined by a new technology partner Nokia Bell Labs, who have focused their attention on the performance of the boat and Thomson himself. In the latest Vendée Globe campaign, “The Hub”, an online dashboard brought live performance data to viewers as Thomson changed sails, made repairs, cooked food, and slept. The platform gave fans a new perspective, showing what life is really like onboard. “With Nokia Bell Labs alongside us, we have learned so much about how to get the best from the boat and myself, and we have really only just scratched the surface of what is possible,” said Thomson.
“I want to say a huge thank you to everybody who has been part of the journey so far. To my team past and present, thank you for the commitment and faith you have shown in me. All our partners and suppliers for all your support, and of course to our loyal fans. The biggest thanks of course, goes to my wife Kate, for being by my side every step of the way”, said Thomson.
Main image © Alex Thomson Racing