Crossing the Ocean Alone

A Personal Challenge for Alex Thomson

Alex Thomson participates in many solo races.

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Alex Thomson participates in many solo races.

Isaiah Chavez, Staff Reporter

People like to challenge themselves.  Some individuals take on more of a challenge than others.  Some people are afraid of the ocean. Others may be scared of being alone for long periods of time. Imagine crossing an ocean and being all alone for 74 days. Skipper Alex Thomson did just that.  He made his way around the world by himself, without a motor, breaks or a crew on a 8.3 ton yacht with a 60-foot -long carbon hull.

According to the magazine, Ideas and Discoveries (ID), forty-two year old Alex Thomson was under constant stress the entire duration of the race. “‘It’s like falling asleep in a race car at full throttle, in the darkness and pouring rain.'”  He was one of 29 skippers who made this trip on November 6, 2016 at Les Sables-d’Olonne in France.  He finished the race with the second fastest time on record – 74 days, 19 hours 35 minutes 15 seconds.

Thompson could not afford more than 40 minutes of sleep at a stretch. He would collapse every two to four hours inside a tiny bunk in the hull of the yacht. His body burned around 7,000 calories a day, which is equivalent to about 12 Big Macs.

The hull of Thomson’s yacht consisted of six watertight chambers. These would keep the boat on the water’s surface in the event of a collision, instead of sinking. Typically 10-15 chambers could fit on the yacht Thompson was sailing, but the stipulations of the Vendee globe allow only one person to be on board. All of the lines come together in the cockpit of the yacht, the skipper only needs to walk towards the mast for setting or reefing a sail.

Thomson is one of 29 skippers who made it around the world. Only the best embark on this journey, and only half will make it to the end. Not even 1oo people have finished the nonstop trip around the world so far.

According to, Thomson is “the youngest sailor to win the crewed race around the world, the Clipper Round The World Race, which he achieved at the age of 25, and he smashed the solo Atlantic crossing record or sailing double-handed came in second in the Barcelona World Race.”