Brian Thompson crosses the finish line at half past eight this morning to take fifth place

Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) crossed the Vendée Globe finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne this morning at 8 hrs 31min 55sec GMT to secure fifth place in the solo non stop around the world race.

Thompson, who fought to contain a keel problem through the final hours of his race, completed his first solo ocean race on IMOCA Open 60 in a time of 98 days 20 hours 29 min 55 sec, holding off the ongoing attack of his compatriot Dee Caffari (AVIVA) who is due to finish later this morning.

The Juan Kouyoumdjian designed Bahrain Team Pindar is considered to be the most powerful in the fleet with the tallest rig. The boat fell badly off schedule when it was dismasted twice in three and a half months, the second time just before Thompson was due to start the Transat Jacques Vabre in October 2007.

Thompson’s seamanship and his boat repair skills were tested to the full on his race. Racing against time to make repairs before one of the biggest storms of his race, the Cowes based skipper spent more than 48 hours in the front sections of his boat making a complex laminate repair to cracks in the longitudinal supports forming the forward ballast tanks. He also subsequently had to make further repairs to the forward structure as well as the transom of a boat, which was never designed specifically with this race in mind.

During the final stages of his race, Thompson said he had lost count how many times he had faced ‘show-stoppers’ – problems which he thought might have ended his race prematurely, but he dealt with them all successfully and was rewarded with a quick passage up the South Atlantic where his time from Cape Horn to the Equator was second only to that of Michel Desjoyeaux. But it was a battle to the end for his well-deserved fifth place.