BRITISH yachtsman Alex Thomson finished third today in the world’s toughest sailing challenge – the Vendee Globe solo non-stop, around-the-world race.
Thomson, 38, from Gosport, Hampshire, crossed the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne in France in his 60-ft boat Hugo Boss this morning after 80 days at sea. He will pocket 75,000 euro (£64,000) for his troubles.
In doing so he has also become the fastest Briton ever to sail around the world in a monohull boat – smashing the previous record by nearly eight days.
A podium finish in the 27,000-mile circumnavigation dubbed the Marathon Of The Seas is a personal triumph for the sailor, who has never managed to finish a solo around the world voyage before and has suffered set-backs and bad luck over the years.
Thomson is now only the third Briton to claim a top three finish in the Vendee after Ellen MacArthur was second in 2001 and Mike Golding – who is in sixth in this race – finished third in 2004.
Alex Thomson with his wife Kate and two year old son Oscar
Thousands of people braved a grey January morning to see the skipper home as dawn broke.
A flotilla of boats also headed out of the harbour in a heavy swell to escort Thomson into port as he sailed in to loud cheers.
He crossed the finish line at 7.25am after 80 days, 19 hours and 23 minutes at sea, race organisers said.
Thomson said before he finished that he was craving a cheeseburger after eating freeze-dried food for months.
He sportingly changed his own course to the finish in the last few days to be closer to France’s Jean-Pierre Dick, who lost his keel in the north Atlantic last week, 2,000 miles from the finish.