Sailing champion and racing team founder Alex Thomson was interviewed by the British Evening Standard, talking about his business, sports, fears and victories, and how to succeed not only in sports, but also in the family.
Alex Thomson's Success Secrets
What do you do?
I am the founder and face Alex thomson racing, my team is based in Gosport on Solente, United Kingdom... My time is split between technical developments such as new boat design, marketing ideas and of course sailing. Our focus is on Vendee globeoften referred to as "Everest of Sailing"... This is a round-the-world singles race, in which I came in second, during the last time I took part. I train a lot in the gym and also study meteorology, medicine, media and maintenance - not to mention the workouts that need to be done in order to effectively operate the boat. It is merciless.
What do you enjoy doing the most?
I love coming up with ideas to get people involved in the sport, with the goal of making sailing sexy. For a year, about 1000 people are on board my boat, and I act as an ambassador in this sport. But there is no "look at my big boat" when you are on the high seas for 80 days. Mother nature humbles you.
What are the difficulties for you?
Raising funds can be difficult as, despite the attractive demographics for advertisers, this is a niche sport. We have several high quality sponsors including Mercedes-Benz and Hugo bosswho sponsor the crew and the boat. It doesn't seem like F1where you paste your logo on the car and sit back. We work a lot with brands to attract people to sports through social media. My field of activity is not only the technical part, it is about human effort, about adventure, so we also involve not only yachtsmen in the business.
I did a series of cool tricks with Hugo boss - extreme sailing in suits that were great. The hardest jump was from the mast, where I ran along the sail of a moving yacht and dived into the water from 15 meters in one try, wearing a suit Hugo boss... Fortunately, a good suit gives you confidence, and you need confidence to do that.
How do you feel about life at sea?
I worked a lot on the psychological side, together with Ken waywho worked for Leicester City during their title season. When you race through the waves in the middle of the ocean it brings life to life, but when you descend below deck it's like being a co-pilot. Colin McRae, and race in complete darkness during heavy rain, so I taught myself not to be afraid. I imagine that I am in the clouds, looking down, and there is no danger or icebergs ahead. People often ask me about loneliness, but it's not loneliness, it's isolation that I can deal with.
What was your biggest breakthrough?
In 1997 I joined the team Clipper Ventures as a regular tanker that did all the hard work. At that time I had only been sailing for three years, I was 24 and had the ambition to become a skipper. Clipper founder sir Robin Knox-Johnstonwho sailed around the world in 1969, took me on a trip to Greenland. He taught me how to navigate by the stars, and we were in an ice trap, tied to icebergs. Then he brought me to the carriage Clipper... I was 10 years younger than everyone. But I won 13 out of 16 races.
What about failure?
There were several events on the verge of life and death. Mike Golding pulled me out of a life raft 100 miles off South Africa, and two years ago my boat capsized near Spain. But as they say, strange things happen at sea. All these experiences make you stronger and therefore stronger as a team.
How do you manage a team as a business project?
I started with sir Keith Mills in 2003 and it took a long time to find sponsorship. Our mantra has always been to win in the water and return to the boardroom. We have worked very hard to provide a return on investment, and over the past four years we have returned £ 226 million to our sponsors. You have to separate results from business. We provide business goals, and then success on the water is a bonus.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
It is about making a difficult situation bearable. My wife has a new business. I was sailing before I had a family, so I stopped wasting time on useless tasks and learned to do everything more efficiently. This is good because, as an athlete, I need to be focused. My wife and I are very straightforward people, so if that doesn't work, we talk about it. We have certain rules in our family, such as, I never disappear for more than three weeks. My son is engaged in kitesurfing, water skiing - in general, all kinds of water sports. I relax by spending time with the children.
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