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Transat Jacques Vabre: Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald prepare for debut on Hugo Boss

by Andy Corridan 26 Oct 2019 10:20 PDT
Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss - Transat Jacques Vabre © Lloyd Images / Alex Thomson Racing

British skipper Alex Thomson, together with his co-skipper Neal McDonald, are preparing to race for the very first time onboard the brand-new HUGO BOSS IMOCA 60 race boat.

The pair will compete in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre, which starts on Sunday 27th October. The 4,350-mile race - beginning in Le Havre, France and finishing in Salvador, Brazil - will see a record 30 yachts go head to head in the IMOCA class.

The race marks the first time that fans will witness the new HUGO BOSS boat, which launched just last month, in competitive action. The ground-breaking boat is the result of more than two years' design and build time by a team of more than 100 designers, engineers, architects and boat builders.

With two previous second place finishes in the Transat Jacques Vabre (in 2003 and 2015), this is a race which Thomson knows well. The British sailor is quick to state, however, that the objective this time around is to reach the finish line and gain crucial insight into the boat's performance, which will inform the team's next round of developments:

"First and foremost, the goal is to finish the race" he said. "This is our first opportunity to really see what the boat's performance capabilities are, and so it is very much a learning exercise for our team. If we're able to arrive into Salvador with the boat in good condition, having learned a lot along the way, then for us that will be a very good result".

Thomson's co-skipper for the race will be seven-time Volvo Ocean Race competitor, and former Olympic sailor, Neal McDonald. Currently Performance Manager at Alex Thomson Racing, McDonald holds more than 30 years' experience in professional sailing.

"This race is really about evaluating the boat's performance and gaining as much knowledge as we can" said McDonald. "That knowledge will be taken forwards as we continue to develop the boat ahead of the Vendée Globe next year, which is of course the sole focus for Alex and the team".

The next edition of the solo, non-stop, unassisted Vendée Globe race will begin on 8th November 2020. Having finished the last two editions of the iconic race in third and second place, Alex Thomson Racing seeks to make history by becoming the first British team to win the race when they compete next year.

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