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Britain’s Alex Thomson arrives safely to Cape Town and formally retires from the Vendée Globe

After irreparable rudder damage put a stop to his quest for victory in the Vendée Globe, British sailor Alex Thomson has arrived safely in Cape Town, South Africa.

It took the skipper almost seven days to make the 1,800nm journey to port, sailing his IMOCA racing yacht with just one rudder. Thomson began the journey on Saturday (28th November), after he was forced to cease racing, 19 days into the solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world yacht race.

Speaking today from Cape Town, Thomson said: “I’m certainly relieved to be back on dry land but I have very mixed emotions today. I’m still coming to terms with what’s happened, and I’m obviously utterly devastated that this is how the race has ended for us.

“But, as I’ve said before, it’s in our toughest moments that we find our greatest strength. Now we have to pick ourselves up and move forwards, and I’ve no doubt that we can do that together as a team.”

The 46-year-old sailor from Hampshire was one of 33 skippers to begin the Vendée Globe from Les Sables-D’Olonne in France on 8th November. The ninth edition of the iconic race, which takes place just every four years, has already seen a number of boats suffer technical failures, collisions or fall victim to the tropical storms and changing weather conditions.

“Over the past week or so we’ve been reminded of just how difficult this race is. I’ve said it time and time again but there really is no sporting challenge in the world as tough as the Vendée Globe. I have such admiration for any skipper who takes on this race. My thoughts go out to those who, like us, have had their races cut short. And I wish the remaining skippers a safe passage and a good race. I’ll be watching closely.

“My arrival here in Cape Town marks our retirement from the race. To everyone who has sent messages – a huge thank you. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. It means so much to us, it really does.

“Right now, I’m looking forward to a shower, some sleep and getting home to my wife and my beautiful children.”

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