Foot off the pedal and doing everything to protect his third place over the last 500 miles, Alex Thomson was sounding happier as he added “I don’t care where I finish (in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race) just as long as I finish.”
Now nearly 200 miles behind Thomson’s Hugo Boss, off the coast of Portugal, fourth-placed Jean-Pierre Dick still had the option to run for safety if strong winds posed too great a threat to his Virbac-Paprec, struggling to finish with its keel long snapped off and at the bottom of the north Atlantic. So far, fully ballasted water tanks have kept him upright and in the race.
“I want to enjoy the moment,” said Thomson, who is expected to be greeted as the third boat to break the old course record, not just by enthusiastic crowds but a family mustering in force and joined by the man who has backed him for so many years, Sir Keith Mills, former deputy chairman of Locog and a director of Tottenham Hotspur.
“I had thought that talk before the start of a new race time of 77 days was ridiculous and I was totally wrong.,” he said” But he remained nervous about conditions forecast for the end which had been for light winds but have been modified for winds of up to gale force.
In sixth place Mike Golding is just about hanging on to fifth-placed Jean Cam, 60 miles astern and with 2,000 miles to run.
Auckland is set to be the third stopover port announced for the 2014-15 Volvo round the world race after two in Brazil, Recife the first on the way out and Itajai on the way back.