ALEX THOMSON (46), HUGO BOSS (2019)
Can he win it? Second in the last edition, third in the one before that,
Britain’s best hope of a Vendée victory for many moons rests on the flamboyant Thomson and his newest Hugo Boss.
This Vendée Globe campaign, his fifth, has been a little different – no elaborate stunts, for starters. The focus was laser direct: to create a non-compromise IMOCA design that would give Thomson his best chance yet of winning. Hugo Boss was launched intentionally later than Charal, the aim to be last in the design cycle, and to be radical. It was a gutsy decision, but events since have squeezed an already tight schedule further.
First Hugo Boss lost its keel in last autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre, then COVID-19 halted all work, including the build of Thomson’s V2 foils at Persico in a badly affected region of Italy. The rebuild and lockdown have left Thomson short on sailing time, and with race cancellations and quarantine rules making competing in France impossible, Boss has yet to line up against most of the IMOCA fleet. It is not the uninterrupted preparation he will have been hoping for.
However, Thomson has been here before. Ahead of the last Vendée he had to abandon, then almost entirely rebuild Hugo Boss after it was rolled and dismasted in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre. Then, he came back stronger, with an improved boat that proved lightning quick: expect him to do the same this time around.