Alex Thomson gives young sailors a helping hand

By Lucy Harwood on 16 May 2007

Alex Thomson, the round the world solo sailor and youngest skipper ever to win a round-the-world yacht race, has given 12 talented Volvo RYA Keelboat squad members, the opportunity to gain offshore sailing experience on the new Volvo 60, HUGO BOSS II, as it sets off on its world tour next month. The culmination of this programme will be the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in December.

Alex Thomson Racing invited 18 Volvo RYA keelboat squad members down to its base in Gosport, Hampshire for a selection weekend. The young sailors were put through their paces by Thomson and his crew on the Volvo 60, HUGO BOSS II. Thomson and his team selected the 12 young sailors, not only on their sailing skills but how they interacted within the team.

“We were very impressed by the standard of all the keelboat sailors that came out sailing with us,” said Thomson. “We wanted to give as many as possible the opportunity to sail offshore with our team and to compete in the two high profile races which the Volvo 60 has entered – the Transpac and the Sydney Hobart. We really like working with the sailors on the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme. It’s great to be able to give young sailors the opportunity to experience sailing big boats and to get a foot in the door of the sailing industry. It is very important to me personally and everyone at AT Racing.”

Alex Thomson was helped early in his sailing career by Sir Keith Mills, the British businessman who ran London's victorious bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is currently working with British America’s Cup campaign TEAMORIGIN. With Mills backing, Thomson broke into the professional solo sailing circuit, realising his dream and making him appreciate how mentoring can help young aspiring sailors.

HUGO BOSS II left on it’s world tour on the 2nd May, starting with a transatlantic crossing from Portsmouth to New York, for which Sam Goodchild has become part of the crew. Two more keelboat sailors will compete in the Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu in July. The Volvo 60 will then sail to Shanghai and tour Asia, finally ending its tour with the famous Sydney-Hobart Race in December.

The Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme is a national initiative set up to provide young sailors with training and coaching on keelboats and yachts. It also helps sailors by providing grants to allow them to compete in races and regattas to improve their skills and give them with quality sailing experience.

“We’re extremely lucky that the squad sailors have had the opportunity to work with a sailor of the calibre of Alex, and are grateful to Alex and his team for offering our young squad members these unique and potentially life altering opportunities,” said RYA Racing Services Manager Dave Atkinson.

”The sailors selected for these projects are extremely talented and will have the chance to get some first rate experience of offshore sailing and racing, and put into practice all the skills they have picked up through their training on the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme.”

The following Volvo RYA keelboat squad members have been selected to sail onboard the Volvo 60 Hugo Boss:

Portsmouth – New York - Sam Goodchild
Transpac Race - Nikki MacGregor, Angus Stevenson
Hawaii - Shanghai - Ben Bainbridge, Andy Rodden, Charlotte Savage
Shanghai - Hong Kong - Hyewl Poole, Charlotte Lawrence
Hong Kong - Singapore - Catherine Alton, Jamie Holmes
Sydney Hobart Race - Nick Cherry, Rachel Howe

Details on how to submit your race reports to YachtsandYachting.com can be found here