Fashion brand backs British solo sailor to take him to the 2012 Vendée Globe

British solo sailor Alex Thomson today announced that his sponsor Hugo Boss is renewing its backing for another four years in a multi-million pound deal that take him to the 2012 Vendée Globe.

At a press conference on the eve of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race, Thomson and his business partner and long-time backer Sir Keith Mills revealed that the fashion brand will fully fund Thomson’s project and allow him to take part in next year’s solo Route du Rhum, the two-handed Barcelona World Race and ultimately the solo Vendée Globe.

They would not say how much the deal was worth and it depends on how you slice it (like who owns the boat), but it could be around £6-8 million.

That is based on generally accepted running costs of £1 million a year and Alex Thomson’s confession that his new boat, the Juan K-designed former Pindar, “will cost more than a new build” and his comment that “we have a budget that allows us to be very, very competitive”.

In the past, Thomson’s boats have been underwritten by Sir Keith Mills, the man behind the Team Origin British America’s Cup campaign. The two have known each other for ten years, since Sir Keith was one of Thomson’s paying crew in the Clipper Race. This sponsorship deal is considerably more than previously.

The view in the sailing media is that Thomson has matured a great deal since he first came into solo sailing and that he has learned to take fewer risks and be less excitable.

But the choice of Pindar as his new boat divides opinion among the other IMOCA skippers, some of whom think it could be a rocket ship, and others a beast ill-suited to Thomson’s hell-for-leather racing style.

I’ve looked at the arguments, and what Alex Thomson himself says about the new boat in my blog – click here.