Sir Robin Knox-Johnston congratulates Alex Thomson on Vendee Globe podium

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world has congratulated Britain’s Alex Thomson on his podium finish in the prestigious Vendee Globe, the only single-handed non-stop round-the-world race.

At 25 Thomson became the youngest skipper to win a round-the-world race when he led Ariel to victory in the 1998-99 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the world’s longest yacht race, which was founded by Sir Robin with the vision of enabling ordinary people from all walks of life to experience the challenge of ocean racing.

Gosport-based Thomson, 38, completed the Vendee Globe today (Wednesday) in Les Sables d’Olonne, France, 80 days, 19 hours, 23 minutes and 43 seconds after leaving on his record-breaking circumnavigation, finishing in third place behind Frenchmen Francois Gabart and Armel Le Cleac’h.

Sir Robin, who this year celebrates 45 years since his own historic circumnavigation said: “Congratulations to Alex for joining the exclusive list of solo circumnavigators. The significance of his achievement is better understood when it is appreciated that three times as many people have been into space as have sailed solo around the world,” he added.

The Clipper Race features crews of amateur sailors each led by a professional skipper taking on the extraordinary challenge of sailing 40,000 miles around the world.