Alex Thomson today began his bid to become the first British sailor ever to win one of the most gruelling sporting challenges on the planet, the Vendée Globe.
The Vendée Globe is a single-handed, non-stop, unassisted race around the world.
Thomson, who's from Gosport, departed from the race start line in France, today alongside 28 other sailors.
After successfully completing the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe and crossing the finishing line in third place, Thomson will this year seek to make history and become the first British sailor ever to win the iconic race. He will do so on-board his new £4.5m IMOCA 60 race boat.
So extreme is the 26,000 nautical mile Vendée Globe, that just 71 of the 138 sailors who have ever attempted to complete the race have successfully made the finish line.
Yachtsman Alex Thomson sailed round the world in 80 days, setting a new British record and finishing third in the Vendee Globe race. Today he was given a hero's welcome as he entered his home town of Gosport in Hampshire, with a Sail of Parade. Heather Edwards went to meet him and his fans.
The Gosport yachtsman Alex Thomson has been welcomed home to Gosport after his successful round-the-world feat in the Vendee Globe race. He is the fastest Briton to have finished the 24,000 mile race at sea. In an interview with Meridian's Heather Edwards, he thanked his fans for all their support.
Hampshire yachtsman Alex Thomson has been taking part in his official homecoming to Gosport after breaking a British record in the round the world Vendee Globe race. Thomson finished the race for the first time in his third attempt, coming third overall.
ITV Meridian spoke to Alex Thomson earlier this week about the challenge. He spent 80 days 19 hours and 23 minutes at sea competing in the Vendee Globe - a route which stretched over more than 24,000 miles, even taking a detour to help a fellow competitor facing problems with his boat.
The record-breaking sailor Alex Thomson has been officially welcomed home to Gosport in Hampshire, after coming third in the round the world Vendee Globe race.
Thomson finished the route in eighty days, setting a new British record. He was greeted today by a flotilla of boats.
A brand new Clipper 70 ocean racing yacht will join the parade of sail to welcome Alex Thomson home to Gosport after his impressive third place in the Vendee Globe.
At 25 Thomson became the youngest skipper to win a round-the-world race when he led Ariel, one of the first generation 60 foot Clipper Race yachts, to victory in the 1998-99 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Now, one of the latest state-of-the-art third generation 70 foot Clipper Race yachts will be out on the water tomorrow, crewed by Clipper Race staff, many of whom have also raced around the world and have great admiration for Alex’s latest achievement.
Hampshire yachtsman Alex Thomson is back on dry land after 80 days 19 hours and 23 minutes at sea competing in the Vendee Globe - a race which stretched over 24,000 miles.
The sailor raced around the world single-handedly, took a detour to help a fellow competitor, struggling with his keel, and was still able to make it to third place.
It is only the third time in the race's history that a Brit has recorded a podium finish. Alex Thomson himself, joined Fred Dinenage and Sangeeta Bhabra in the ITV News Meridian studio.
It's a new British record. Hampshire yachtsman Alex Thomson is now the fastest person to sail around the world in a single hulled boat.
The 38 year old set the record in the Vendee Globe race - an 80 day marathon during which he survived vicious storms and slept in 20 minute bursts.
He crossed the finish line in 3rd place. Sally Simmonds has more.
VIDEO: Alex Thomson, from Gosport in Hampshire, crosses the finishing line of the Vendee Globe round the world yacht race. He took third place this morning.