Thomson breaks two race records
Fastest to reach Cape of Good Hope
Also quickest to there from equator
The grueling Vendee Globe is not even a third of the way finished, but British sailor Alex Thomson has already set two records in the solo round-the-world race.
Thomson reached South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, in 17 days, 22 hours and 58 minutes, more than five days faster than the previous best set by Armel Le Cléac’h in 2012.
At midday GMT Friday, the Frenchman – runner-up in the two previous editions – was in second place, 35 nautical miles behind Thomson and reducing his lead.
Thomson, who was third on his debut in the 2012-13 race, set another milestone by racing from the equator to Good Hope – one of Africa’s most southerly points – in eight days, 15 hours and 56 minutes. He was four days quicker than Jean-Pierre Dick’s record.
Thomson has averaged speeds in excess of 20 knots since the race began on November 6, despite breaking his monohull’s starboard foil when he hit a submerged object last weekend.
Nicknamed the “Everest of the Seas,” the Vendee Globe is one of the world’s most challenging sporting events. Only 71 of 138 boats have finished the race since its inception in 1989.
French sailors traditionally dominate, winning all seven races so far.
Thomson, the only Brit competing, said the records pale into comparison with his main aim of overall victory.
“I can only reflect on the record if I win the race. The only priority is to stay in front and win,” the 42-year-old told BBC Wales.
“And in this race, 50% of the people who started will not finish and that is a fact. And if I can get to the finish line, I have a great chance of winning.”
With over 17,000 nautical miles to sail, the leaders had completed just under 30% of the full route.
The 26-strong fleet – three entrants have already been forced to abandon the race – is now heading towards Cape Leeuwin on the southwest coast of Australia.
The sailors will then pass Cape Horn in Chile on the southern tip of South America, before the final run up the east coast of the continent en route back to Les Sables d’Olonne.