Solo yachtsmen, Alex Thomson and Mike Golding reveal their strategies for Velux 5 Oceans 15/9/06

Top solo round-the-world yachtsmen Alex Thomson and Mike Golding spoke about their preparations for the Velux 5 Oceans at the Southampton Boatshow today.

About to embark on a gruelling solo challenge that starts from Bilbao, Spain on 23 October, Thomson and Golding told a crowd on the Treasure Island Beach what motivates them to take on the longest running solo round the world race (formerly known as Around Alone).

Mike Golding has competed in six round the world races without the taste of victory. Golding admits: “Whilst we have excelled in many ways, it would be great if we could do well and pull through in the end.”

The Velux 5 Oceans may just be the race for Golding. Spanning five oceans, the race covers 30,000 miles of ocean with three stopovers including Fremantle, Western Australia, Norfolk, USA, and finally back to Bilbao, Spain for the finish, expecting to be at the end of April 2007.

Mike Golding doesn’t believe the Velux 5 Oceans is the underdog to the Vendée Globe, stating that it doesn’t make it any easier because there are stops. Golding stated: “We’re approaching this as a team, treating it as two Vendées and one Transat – our preparation is based on that.”

Battling it out with Mike Golding will be 32-year-old Alex Thomson aboard his new and improved Open 60 Hugo Boss. With a new keel, new conventional three-spreader mast with an extra two metres, (as opposed to the original wing mast) as well as changes to electronics, keel systems, winches, and more, Thomson is well prepared for the upcoming race. This follows Alex Thomson’s badluck in the last Vendée Globe where his problems with the mast forced him to retire near Cape Town.

Thomson will be competing in three round-the-world races in three years, starting off with the Velux 5 Oceans, moving onto the two-handed Barcelona World Race, and finishing with the Vendée Globe. Alex Thomson is level-headed about these challenges, saying: “For me the priority is to finish, then the second is to learn something and the third is to place well. A very different approach to the last Vendée Globe where I was just out to win.”

Thomson adds: “There’s a lot of people coming to see me in Fremantle and they’ll be disappointed if I don’t arrive.”

Currently holding the single-handed monohull 24 hour world record for speed sailing, covering 468m at an average boat speed of 19.5 knots during the Le Defi Atlantique in 2003, Thomson hopes to better this speed in his new boat that will be launched in Spring 2007.

Alex Thomson demonstrates a mature outlook in how he will attack the Velux 5 Oceans, as he states; “It’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Vendée Globe solo sailor Nick Moloney stood in the crowd supporting his fellow yachtsmen, who will embark on the Velux 5 Oceans without him this time.

Whilst the two English sailors feel well-prepared for the race, they are not admitting it will be an easy one. Mike Golding mentions the likes of French solo yachtsman Bernard Stamm, as well as two new round-the-world sailors to the scene Kojiro Shiraishi of Japan and Unai Basurko of Spain.

Another hot contender in the Velux 5 Oceans is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who is currently working on his boat in Gosport. Mike Golding said Sir Robin is physically strong for the race with a positive mental attitude that means he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

You can see Alex Thomson’s Open 60 Hugo Boss down at the Southampton Boatshow for the next week.