Pre-race favourites

Mark Lloyd /
Hugo Boss' Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on the Barcelona World Race
Having finished second with Andrew Cape in the first Barcelona World Race and having had to cry off the second when he suffered an appendicitis two days before the start, Gosport’s finest, Alex Thomson, has started the third running of the doublehanded round the world race as favourite. While the IMOCA 60 in which he finished a very respectable third in the last Vendée Globe is now in the hands of Guillermo Altadill and Chilean Jose Munoz as Neutrogena – that campaign also managed by Thomson’s team – Thomson is on this occasion sailing the VPLP-Verdier-designed former Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron’s winner of the last Barcelona World Race. In reality, the latest Hugo Boss is the only 2012 generation IMOCA 60 taking part and so should have a speed edge over its competition. However Thomson also made the wise decision to team up with his co-skipper Pepe Ribes early on. Ribes comes with huge experience, particularly in the Volvo Ocean Race, which he has sailed four times, but also competed in the last Barcelona World Race, finishing fourth with Alex Pella on Estrella Damm. “Pretty good - we should be among the favourites,” said Thomson of his prospects prior to the start. “We have the boat which won it last time and Pepe and I are really strong. We have been preparing for this for a year and we have done a lot of miles. We have broken the boat and fixed it, broken it and fixed. So we feel like we have learned all that stuff. We feel pretty confident.” Work carried out on board includes changing the engine, and resecuring the mast track (after it came away during the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race last summer). As Pepe Ribes puts it: “Many