Round-the-world sailor Alex Thomson 'truly honoured' by welcome in Hampshire

Record-breaking British sailor Alex Thomson said he is "honoured" by the UK crowds who came out to celebrate his Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race achievement.

Last month the 42-year-old Welshman was denied the glory of being the first Briton to win offshore racing's ultimate test by Frenchman Armel Le Cleac'h - with just 16 hours separating the pair.

Thomson finished with a time of 74 days, 19 hours and 35 minutes, with equipment issues eventually seeing him fall short in his quest to become the first non-French winner of the race.

On Saturday he was welcomed back to his home town of Gosport, Hampshire, with a parade of sail on the Solent and into Portsmouth Harbour - with a flotilla of craft following him.

And after mooring up his £3.5 million Hugo Boss boat on Gosport Ferry pontoon, the celebration moved to Falklands Gardens for a civic reception.

He said: "I am always overwhelmed by the support I receive from my local community, but today has been particularly special.

"I'm truly honoured that these crowds came out to celebrate not only my achievement, but also the work of my team both before and during the race, today is as much a day for them as it is for me and it is something none of us will ever forget."

He told the Press Association: "It was brilliant, and lovely to be able to bring the boat back to its home port and home town of Gosport and to be able to show it off a little bit, it was really great."

During the race he set a new world record for the most distance sailed solo in 24 hours, and broke his own 80-day record to become the fastest Briton to sail solo around the world in a monohull.

But early on in the race the father-of-two's carbon fibre boat hit an unidentified object submerged in the water, causing his starboard foil to break.

This coupled with the issues he had with the wind instruments on the boat - preventing the autopilot working properly - denied him the chance of victory.

Alex Thomson Racing chief executive Stewart Hosford said: "We are incredibly proud of what Alex has achieved and are delighted to see the tremendous support from our local community.

"An achievement such as this is the result of four years of extremely hard work and preparation from both Alex and the team behind the scenes and it is fantastic to be able to celebrate such a fantastic result."

Thomson, taking part for a fourth time, matched the result of Dame Ellen MacArthur, who in 2001 placed second in the Vendee Globe - a race dubbed the "Everest of sailing".

Competitors are required to compete alone at sea without stopping, setting foot on dry land, or receiving any form of assistance for almost three months - pushing sailors to their limits.

Quizzed on whether he will be taking part in the race again in four years' time, Thomson said "possibly" and confirmed his wife Kate has given him the green light.

He added: "It is down to whether we can put together the right package and get the right people on board and put together a credible campaign.

"I need to make sure we can put something together that is very competitive - obviously this time the only one result which we are looking for would be first.

"We have got to go through that and obviously in the next few months hopefully we can start moving forwards with that."

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