Sailing: Thomson fired up for non-stop challenges

British solo sailor Alex Thomson is enjoying himself in the New South Wales sunshine but life is soon to take a more serious turn for the 31-year-old from Gosport as he prepares to line up for the start of the Sydney to Hobart Race on Boxing Day at the helm of his Open 60, Hugo Boss.

Alongside him will be the Australian round-the-world sailor Nick Moloney, who has signed a new four-year deal with Ellen MacArthur's Offshore Challenges firm.

Thomson expects to have a new boat in the water at the end of March 2007, in good time to take part later that year in the two-handed Barcelona round-the-world non-stop race, announced in September by MacArthur's business partner, Mark Turner.

"I am very much looking forward to the Hobart," Thomson said yesterday. "The atmosphere is fantastic, the changes to the boat, including the new keel, have been really good, so we are just going to fire up and go."