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Alex Thomson reflects on the Hugo Boss mast walk - Never Again!

by Kate Laven, The Daily Telegraph (UK) on 14 Mar 2014
Alex Thomson the skipper of the Hugo Boss IMOCA Open 60 race yacht walking up the mast of his yacht whilst sailing. Lloyd Images/Alex Thomson Racing

The Daily Telegraph's yachting correspondent, Kate Laven, talks with Alex Thomson after his his mast-walking exploit and video, which is getting close to the million views mark in just over two weeks.

Alex Thomson is used to blazing new trails as he demonstrated when he won the Clipper Race in 1998-99 to become the youngest skipper to win a round-the-world race.

This week it was a different trail but just as cool. Despite having a fear of heights, he walked the length of his 100 foot mast as his boat Hugo Boss was heeled at a 45 degree angle somewhere off the coast of Cadiz in Spain and dived fully suited, into the water.

Within hours of the video of his mastwalk going live, 250,000 people had viewed it, twice as many as the numbers who tuned in when he completed a similarly crazy stunt walking the keel of Hugo Boss in 2011.

Thomson had to lie in a bath for an hour afterwards to calm down



He came up with the mastwalk idea last year and took it to his sponsors Hugo Boss, who have been supporting his sailing successes since 2003. Predictably, they loved it and gave him the backing to go ahead, with a team of 25 cameramen, medics and sailors plus a helicopter for some dramatic overhead shots and a stuntman just in case Thomson froze, as he thought he might, before leaping into the water.

He trained by attending the diving centre near his home in Southampton where some members of the British Olympic diving team train and although he jumped from the 10m board he only managed a training dive from 5m before losing his nerve.

Next thing he knew, he was perched precariously at the end of his mast about 15 metres above the sea trying to remember everything he'd learned in the pool

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