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Alex Thomson's press conference

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Alex Thomson held his pre-start Press Conference this morning. In typically upscale style it was held aboard a big, shiny superyacht in the heart of the Port Olona marina.

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Alex Thomson
© JEAN MARIE LIOT / DPPI

The British skipper again highlighted that, after two failed attempts, his primary objective is finishing.

“I have spent ten years of my life, my families lives, our sponsors lives, there is a real responsibility now to finish this race. If you finish then you have a chance of winning this race.”

Asked if there is a possibility of the winner making it round in 76 days as the organisers suggested last month, he commented:

“ I think that 76 days is ambitious. It does depend on getting a really good ride to the equator, but I don’t think it is possible.”

The reasons for choosing the Farr design

“ Originally my choice for this race was the Juan K design which is the ex Pindar. And the reason for that choice was to try and use the power of that boat which is approximately 40% more than others. The gamble with that boat was could I alone use the power of that boat and the answer was no. If we could turn the clock back then I would be here with a new boat. But on the other hand we are here with a well rounded boat. It is good in every condition and it is extremely reliable. In the last two years in this class this boat and Jean-Pierre Dick’s have been the top performing boats. It won the Route du Rhum, took second in the Jacques Vabre and fourth in the BtoB, it is a good boat.”

“ Having started the last two editions, the last two were so stressful this is a walk in the park.”

“There are three reasons I race the Vendée Globe, there is the challenge, the competition and the boats. I still stand in my cockpit drinking my English cup of tea in 20knots of wind and the boat is doing 20knots and I look at the speedo and I go….wow!  We look at ocean racing, the MOD 70’s are not growing, the last Volvo Ocean Race was no growing and here we have 20 great boats. Ocean racing is alive and the heart is in the IMOCA class.”

“ Of the things which are going to allow you to finish or to win the Vendée Globe, right at the top of the list is time on the water. Everybody believes that I am a fast sailor and I have an interesting reputation. I don’t think that breaking records helps that reputation. But the Transatlantic record which I broke earlier this year was not about breaking records. This year there was no real ocean race for IMOCA boats and so the reason to do the record was to simulate a race situation. It is impossible to do good training without being in real situation and we were extremely lucky on the day we left that we had the weather to break the record. It was perfect training, perfect pressure to simulate the race situation.”

“ Some of the skippers have said that they hope that the reliability will be higher than the previous race. The reality is that we all know that it will be somewhere between 40 per cent and 60 per cent which will stop. And you know, that is OK. This is a race of attrition. It is the hardest sporting challenge in the world. And if it was easy the race would not be so great. Historically we see a higher attrition rate in the newer boats than the older boats.”

On an ongoing basis

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