Stewart Hosford: "Alex is focused and determined"
What is your role in the HUGO BOSS sailing team ?
As the Managing Director of the company, behind Alex Thomson Racing and the sponsorship of HUGO BOSS. In theory, I’m Alex’s boss (he laughs). But it never feels like it, really… I’m in charge of the procedures, the processes and the budget, I make sure the team runs correctly. I’m also a good friend of Alex’s, I’ve known him for ten years.
How did you first meet Alex?
I met him in 2001 when I did the Fastnet Race. I was a banker in London, I chartered the boat with some friends and Alex was the skipper, he hadn’t started in IMOCA Open 60’ at the time. He was quite young at the time, he had just finished the Clipper Race and he had a charter business. Alex and I became friends and two years later, we chartered the same boat with Alex and these friends. And we thought it would be cool to have a sponsor, let’s find one! A friend of mine had a connection to HUGO BOSS UK, so we went to meet them with Alex and they accepted to give us some t-shirts and sunglasses and we put HUGO BOSS on the side of the boat. It was a very small sponsorship, there was no money involved, it was a fun thing, really. But when the HUGO BOSS people in Germany saw the pictures of the boat, they thought it looked really cool. In the meantime I had gone back to work but Alex continued the relationship with them, it kept going and he convinced them to do a Vendee Globe.
How would you describe Alex in a few words?
You’d be surprised, it’s not what you imagine. Ten years ago, I would have said something different but today, Alex is very focused and determined, he’s also very caring about his team, his family and his sponsor.
« We're trying not to party too much before the start »
Would you use the same words to describe him as a skipper and as a person?
Yes, it’s pretty much the same thing. He’s very caring even though I know he has the reputation of being a tough guy. He‘s a very soft human being who gets really excited about things that happen, whether they are business things, sponsor things… And he likes to have fun!
Do you have a funny story or an anecdote about Alex that would say a lot about him?
It’s not necessarily a funny story but it’s something about one of the great things about Alex. When you’re sailing with him and you go on watch, he will keep everyone entertained by telling stories and also by doing actions throughout the story, actually showing what he’s telling about. But because he’s an emotional guy, he sometimes gets very grumpy and then he won’t want to tell anyone any stories. I have so much fun with him sailing, but also in the office. When we do presentations together to HUGO BOSS factories staff all around the world, Alex has great stories. Like when he asks people how they can tell someone is a single-handed sailor. He tells them their upper body is HUGE but their lower body is like a chicken’s (he laughs). Alex is not like that, though!
Do you, Alex and the rest of the team have plans to go out and party before the start of the race?
We’re always careful about having too many parties before the race starts. There’s that story about a team doing the Admiral’s Cup every year in the UK, and they always have this huge party before the race. When you ask them why, they answer: “Because we have absolutely nothing to celebrate at the end” (he laughs). For us, this time, I hope it will be different! The team and our sponsor like to have fun and enjoy life but we’ve all worked on this race for three years so we want to be as prepared as we can be and focused on finishing this race. It’s also very important for Alex personally.
Will you be in touch with Alex during the race?
As a person, Alex likes to have a lot of communication, he doesn’t like to go for many days without discussions. He will sometimes call at 8.30 in the morning just to make sure people are in the office. So basically, he will speak to us every day, either to me or to the technical team.