For a decade, Alex Thomson has distinguished himself as the one non-French solo racer who can truly battle with the big boys both on the course and in the boardroom. Second in the inaugural Barcelona World Race and then an incredible third place in the last Vendee against far quicker designs, Hugo Boss has become synonymous with Alex and his Open 60, and they are clearly happy about it. That’s why the fashion house pulled the trigger last week on yet another 4-year deal with Thomson and management company 5West; they used the occasion to announce Thomson’s participation in the next Barcelona World Race with long time SA favorite Pepe Ribes, and the team also committed to next summer’s Ocean Masters NY-BCN race; a bit of a stunt to try to get US interest up in IMOCA action prior to what should be a well-funded, well-attended, and brilliant 2015 BWR. Congrats to Alex and his entire extended team; they are keeping IMOCA relevant for a hell of a lot of English-speakers.
Thanks in part to some of the same great supporters of Alex’s campaigns, we can confidently report that Sir Ben Ainslie – the first British member of a winning America’s Cup team in 110 years – is most of the way to meeting initial funding pledges and goals for the next America’s Cup and an all (or mostly) British team. While Sir Ben wouldn’t confirm or deny this when we spoke to him, other Pommie friends tell us that Ben’s been making great inroads, and probably has around 80% of the necessary funding pledged by a syndicate of UK businessman and long-time commercial sponsors. This all assumes a satisfactory protocol coming to light sometime before Judgment Day, and it’s spectacular news for the Cup and great news for fans of arguably the world’s best (and best-known) sailor, and we wish him all the luck in the world.
World Championship of the World
We’re also hearing that the AC45s may be done and dusted, and that 2014 will not be a year of ACWS racing of any kind. Meanwhile, Ben, Cammas, Luna Rossa, and ETNZ are likely to jump into the Extreme Sailing Series tout de suite, and some of the younger potential Cup B-teamers may get some starting and match racing practice in a resurgent World Match Racing Tour. Add in some cross training with the Flying Phantom foilers and you’ve got plenty of AC action for the next year, even with no AC. Good times (on tight budgets)…