Round the world joyride

Brian Thompson looks forward to setting off on the Jules Verne Trophy as the only Englishman on Pascal Bidegorry's maxi trimaran Banque Populaire
Brian Thompson is set to get the ride of his life sometime this winter when he sets off on his fourth non-stop round the world lap of the planet as the sole Brit on board Pascal Bidegorry’s Banque Populaire Maxi, the world’s largest and fastest offshore racing trimaran.When it comes to offshore multihull racing, Thompson has the longest and more impressive CV of anyone in the UK. This began when the lanky giant competed in the 1992 OSTAR aboard the 35ft trimaran Transient. It was followed by 11 years as the late Steve Fossett’s wingman, that took him through the ORMA 60 Lakota, to some alarming moments racing Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes softsail America's Cup catamaran offshore around the USA and ultimately on to the mighty 125ft catamaran Cheyenne/PlayStation. With Fossett, Thompson notched up numerous sailing records, including the fastest non-stop lap of the planet in 2004. After competing with Karine Fauconnier on board the ORMA 60 Sergio Tacchini, he skippered Tracy Edwards’ maxi-cat (ex-Club Med), Maiden 2, subsequently renamed Doha 2006 and in this won the Oryx Quest in 2005. And all this is in addition to his singlehanded racing in monohulls including the Mini Transat and most recently the last Vendee Globe as skipper of Bahrain Team Pindar. His latest ride came about following a chance meeting with Banque Populaire crewman Kevin Escoffier, who Thompson had raced against in the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre. Escoffier said they were looking for crew with a range of experience for the maxi-tri – it seems he isn’t on board to up the ‘international’ flavour of the crew as Banque Populaire only operates and has interests in France. Thompson hasn’t sailed on board during any of Banque Populaire’s record attempts, but he has notched up considerable miles on the world’s fastest offshore boat on