Stepping away from the spray

Published on October 25th, 2021

Alex Thomson did the Keelwalk. He did the Mastwalk. He did the Skywalk. He brought high fashion to sailing. He found the edge while competing and gleefully crossed it. His sailing career was more notable for what he broke than who he beat.

And now the British sailor, whose headlines sold product for Hugo Boss, Mercedes-Benz, and Nokia, is stepping away from the spray.

Thomson won’t compete as a skipper in the 2024 Vendée Globe, the solo, non-stop race around-the-world, taking a break after competing in the IMOCA 60 circuit for 19 years including five successive Vendée Globe’s with two podium finishes and numerous world records.

“I love the sport but it’s now time for me to spend more time on land, with my young family,” said Thomson. “My wife Kate has single-handedly raised our children for the last 10 years whilst I have pursued my dream. Now I want to support Kate and allow her the same opportunity that she has given me. This doesn’t mean that I am retiring, just changing my role, from spending most of my time at sea, to spending more of it on land.”

“Aside from being a skipper, I have always believed that it is my role to be an ambassador for our sport, telling the story to an international audience. In the last 20 years we have sailed to every corner of the globe, from Russia to Mexico, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan and even up the River Yangtze to Shanghai, China!

“There is a huge global fanbase who follow and love the Vendée Globe. I want to continue to promote the sport, tell the story and share my knowledge and experience, but with a focus on the next generation.”

Thomson and his team 5 West Ltd will remain together. “The goal has always been to win the Vendée Globe, which to me remains the toughest sporting challenge left in the world today, and we haven’t accomplished that yet. This is the start of a new chapter, with a new skipper, and we will provide him or her with all the tools, knowledge, experience, and environment to win.”

Technical Director Ross Daniel, who has worked alongside Thomson for 20 years and eight round the world race campaigns, is eager to leverage that expertise. “We are going to continue to use our experience in designing and building boats and running successful campaigns and I am looking forward to the next campaign leading to the Vendée Globe in 2024.”

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