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Alex Thomson Buys Contentious Vendée Globe IMOCA 60

25th March 2023
Alex Thomson during the 2020/2021 Vendée Globe
Alex Thomson during the 2020/2021 Vendée Globe

Welsh Solo offshore Alex Thomson, who has ties to Cork Harbour in Ireland, has bought Banque Populaire’s IMOCA 60 following the team’s withdrawal from the next Vendée Globe in 2024 due to the controversial circumstances over dropping female skipper Clarisse Crémer.

5 West Ltd, represented by British four-time Vendée Globe competitor Alex Thomson, announced it had reached an agreement with Team Banque Populaire on its social media channels earlier this week (21 March 2023).

Banque Populaire posted a similar message via its social channels, stating: Team Banque Populaire has concluded an agreement for the sale of its IMOCA with the company 5 West Ltd represented by A. Thomson, for a project which will allow a future skipper to participate in the Vendée Globe. [Banque Populaire] wishes them success in this new challenge.

The skipper has not yet been announced, although some fans are hoping that Clarisse Crémer might return to the helm of the boat for the 2024 event.

Crémer came 12th overall in 2020/2021 Vendée Globe and was the first woman to complete that iteration, becoming a record holder. She was shockingly dropped by her sponsor Banque Populaire in February (2023) after she gave birth to a baby girl in November 2022.

In October 2021, new rules were implemented to qualify for the Vendée Globe. Previously, finishers automatically qualified for the next edition. Now skippers must gain points by participating in intermediate races with only the first 40 qualifying. Crémer’s maternity leaves meant she couldn’t accumulate enough points.

Published in Vendee Globe
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The 2024 Vendée Globe Race

A record-sized fleet of 44 skippers are aiming for the tenth edition of the Vendée Globe: the 24,296 nautical miles solo non-stop round-the-world race from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, on Sunday, November 10 2024 and will be expected back in mid-January 2025.

Vendée Globe Race FAQs

Six women (Alexia Barrier, Clarisse Cremer, Isabelle Joschke, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron, Pip Hare).

Nine nations (France, Germany, Japan, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Great Britain)

After much speculation following Galway man Enda O’Coineen’s 2016 race debut for Ireland, there were as many as four campaigns proposed at one point, but unfortunately, none have reached the start line.

The Vendée Globe is a sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance. It takes place every four years and it is regarded as the Everest of sailing. The event followed in the wake of the Golden Globe which had initiated the first circumnavigation of this type via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in 1968.

The record to beat is Armel Le Cléac’h 74 days 3h 35 minutes 46s set in 2017. Some pundits are saying the boats could beat a sub-60 day time.

The number of theoretical miles to cover is 24,296 miles (45,000 km).

The IMOCA 60 ("Open 60"), is a development class monohull sailing yacht run by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA). The class pinnacle events are single or two-person ocean races, such as the Route du Rhum and the Vendée Globe.

Zero past winners are competing but two podiums 2017: Alex Thomson second, Jérémie Beyou third. It is also the fifth participation for Jean Le Cam and Alex Thomson, fourth for Arnaud Boissières and Jérémie Beyou.

The youngest on this ninth edition of the race is Alan Roura, 27 years old.

The oldest on this ninth edition is Jean Le Cam, 61 years old.

Over half the fleet are debutantes, totalling 18 first-timers.

The start procedure begins 8 minutes before the gun fires with the warning signal. At 4 minutes before, for the preparatory signal, the skipper must be alone on board, follow the countdown and take the line at the start signal at 13:02hrs local time. If an IMOCA crosses the line too early, it incurs a penalty of 5 hours which they will have to complete on the course before the latitude 38 ° 40 N (just north of Lisbon latitude). For safety reasons, there is no opportunity to turn back and recross the line. A competitor who has not crossed the starting line 60 minutes after the signal will be considered as not starting. They will have to wait until a time indicated by the race committee to start again. No departure will be given after November 18, 2020, at 1:02 p.m when the line closes.

The first boat could be home in sixty days. Expect the leaders from January 7th 2021 but to beat the 2017 race record they need to finish by January 19 2021.

Today, building a brand new IMOCA generally costs between 4.2 and €4.7million, without the sails but second-hand boats that are in short supply can be got for around €1m.

©Afloat 2020

Vendee Globe 2024 Key Figures

  • 10th edition
  • Six women (vs six in 2020)
  • 16 international skippers (vs 12 in 2020)
  • 11 nationalities represented: France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Japan, China, USA, New Zealand (vs 9 in 2020)
  • 18 rookies (vs 20 in 2020)
  • 30 causes supported
  • 14 new IMOCAs (vs 9 in 2020)
  • Two 'handisport' skippers

At A Glance - Vendee Globe 2024

The 10th edition will leave from Les Sables d’Olonne on November 10, 2024

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