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11 April 2014, 07:15 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
Gosport’s very own world class sailor Alex Thomson will receive the Freedom of the Borough from the Mayor of Gosport, Cllr John Beavis MBE, on Friday 11 April.
Speaking on the man in question the Mayor, Cllr John Beavis said; “Gosport is extremely proud of Alex’s outstanding achievements. He is a man who has not only set a fine example of courage and inspiration to the young people of the Borough; he has also done his utmost to promote Gosport as his home town. In doing so has really put Gosport on the map which is why, on Thursday 10 July 2013, in recognition of his input into the maritime history of Gosport, the Council agreed to confer on Alex the Honorary Freedom of the Borough.”
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award the Council can bestow. It dates back to the middle ages when Freemen had commercial privileges and a route into a position of power in a town or city. Rarely given, it is normally only awarded to local people of distinction who have, in the opinion of the Council, rendered eminent services to the Borough - an honour bestowed upon a valued member of the community.
Because of his busy schedule, no official ceremony has yet taken place to present the award. Now, with man and boat both in the same place, a ceremony to formally present the award to Alex will take place. It will be held at 10.15am on Friday 11 April on the Esplanade de Royan, with the magnificent ‘Hugo Boss Class 60’, which Alex sailed around the world, overlooking proceedings from the harbour.
Alex became the youngest skipper to win a round-the-world race in 1999, when he won the Clipper Round the World Race, a record he still holds today. The following year he won the Round Britain and Ireland race, before launching himself onto the solo racing scene.
There he made his mark in 2003 by smashing the single handed world 24-hour monohull distance record, and then again in 2007. He also competed in the Barcelona World Race in 2007, securing a 2nd place podium finish and setting a second monohull world distance record. On 26 July 2012, Alex smashed the single-handed monohull transatlantic record by more than 24 hours.
In November 2012 Alex was one of only three British competitors to take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world 26,000 mile Vendée Globe race, starting in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Currently only 50% of participants have been successful in completing the race known as the ‘Everest of sailing’. Alex secured 3rd place on the Vendée Globe Podium for the UK (and for Gosport) in a time of 80 days 19 hours 23 minutes and 43 seconds.