British sailor Alex Thomson admits it is “hard not to feel quietly confident” as he bids to make history by breaking the French stranglehold on the Vendee Globe yacht race.
Thomson is among 33 skippers poised to set sail from western France on Sunday at the start of the gruelling, around-the-world event.
The 46-year-old is a genuine contender to become the first non-French winner having finished third and then second in the two most recent editions of the non-stop, solo race.
Despite his build up being disrupted by coronavirus restrictions, he believes preparations are “far beyond” his previous attempts, including four years ago when he had to settle for the runner-up spot after being hindered by a broken hydrofoil.
“The cards are on the table, the die is cast and now we have to crack on,” Thomson told the PA news agency.
“I can only relate it to how we were four years ago and we are so far beyond where we were four years ago it’s hard not to feel quietly confident about our ability to be able to do this.
“I feel we are better prepared than we’ve ever been.
“What matters is that we finish the race and, if we can do that, we stand a very good chance of being at the front.”
— Gosport Borough Council (@GosportCouncil) November 6, 2020
Thomson is preparing for his fifth shot at success after being forced to abandon his initial two race attempts due to boat damage.
He travelled to France last Saturday and has been in lockdown ahead of potentially spending around 70 days at sea on an epic 28,000-mile journey.
Spectators will be unable to wave off competitors this year due to France’s Covid-19 confinement measures.
After departing the coastal town on Les Sables-d’Olonne, Thomson will once again travel around the bottom of Africa, past the south coast of Australia and navigate Cape Horn at the base of South America before returning to the starting point on mainland Europe.
While glory in the so-called Everest of sailing has been a long-standing ambition, the Gosport-based yachtsman insists he is not preoccupied by the prospect of realising his dream.
“I wouldn’t say I think about it constantly but it’s obviously the objective of everything we do, why we work so hard,” said Thomson, whose £5.5million IMOCA 60 yacht is named Hugo Boss after the team’s principal partner.
“In terms of thinking about what happens if you win, I don’t really think about that. You’ve got to get to that position.
“You can do everything you can possibly do, you can dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s, and you still need a bit of luck. I do believe you make your own luck.
“To think about what you would feel like if you win would feel a little bit arrogant, perhaps.”