Alex Thomson chats to Hannah Emanuel about last Saturday's Round the Island Race
Although the Gold Roman Bowl, the top prize at last Saturday’s Round the Island Race, was won by Giovanni Belgrano on board his classic 1939 Laurent Giles-designed sloop Whooper, it was Alex Thomson aboard his Open 60 who won the line honours prize for the first monohull to cross the finish line.
When did you know your team was a contender for the observer trophy (first monohull home)?
“When we saw Leopard going back again, at the Needles we saw her turn around and go back which effectively made us the quickest boat in the race. It’s a bit of a shame really because it could have been interesting to see if she’d pulled away from us. I think we’d have probably done pretty similar speeds down to the Needles but I think we’d have been faster on the next bit.”
What were your special tactics for the race?
“Not to hit anything, not to go too mad with the boat. I knew before the start that the record wasn’t going to be on because of the wind direction, so there wasn’t really much point in going completely ballistic with it.”
Did you run into any difficulties during the race?
“Our GPS went so we had some paper charts because the electronic charts weren’t working so it was quite difficult to know exactly where we were. This meant we probably gave things a wider berth than we had to, but apart from that, no. We got a lot of water inside the boat and when we were doing the reach from St Catherine’s to Bembridge, we averaged about 19-19.5 knots on that leg.”
Having failed to attract a suitable sponsor for the Vendée Globe from your launching of the bid on eBay, is all hope gone for his competing in the race?
“We [my team] are still trying as hard as we can. We’re still talking to a couple of companies, so, still feeling positive. I think we all knew this was going to go to the wire when the sponsorship didn’t happen in January.”
Thomson is now heading to Cork, Ireland to compete for the Commonwealth Cup in next month’s Cork Week.