Alex Thomson pulls out of the Transat race with less than two weeks before the start

Thirty-year-old Alex Thomson, holder of the 24-hour, singlehanded monohull speed record, has officially pulled out of this year’s Transat which starts on 31 May 2004 in Plymouth.

Despite Alex’s success in teaming up with Hugo Boss and RS Components for the Vendée Globe later this year, the decision was made to pull out of the race less than two weeks before it was due to start. Since the entry fee of around £7,000 will not be refunded, the decision will not have been easy.

A keen sailor from the age of 13, Alex’s great moment came when he broke the world speed record on 11/12 December 2003 during last year’s Le Défi Atlantique race.

Talking about his speed record Alex said: “It was a pretty insane thing to do. For me it all came down to what I felt comfortable doing. I was in a pretty good wind band for three or four days and I broke the record during the end of that band, so by the time it came round I was pretty comfortable with what I was doing. The weather was very stable, so when I got into the first six-hour period of the record I think I averaged 19.5 knots for the first six hours and I had to be at a certain point to be in the wind. And I sort of surpassed that. I knew after six hours that I was going to do it.”

Pulling out of the Transat will allow Alex more time to prepare for the next big thing, to him a much more important race, the Vendée Globe. When asked why the race held so much importance for him, he replied: “I think it’s the hardest thing you can do. I don’t know if you want to compare it to climbing Everest. But if you climb Everest, there are people who will take you up there, but with the Vendée Globe you’re on your own and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s man against the elements. It’s the challenge for me. I don’t enjoy spending time alone, the things that do it for me are the challenge, pushing myself to the boundary and beyond and the speed. There’s nothing I can think of that has given me such a buzz as doing that 24 hour record.”

Although sponsorship for his entry to the Vendée Globe is not yet complete, he remains certain that he will raise the necessary funds. Alex concluded: “For us it’s just an issue of when it’s going to happen.”