British sailor Alex Thomson is the early leader of one of the most famous French solo offshore races, La Route du Rhum: Destination Guadeloupe. 

Thomson leads the field of 123 skippers, across six different classes, after departing from Saint-Malo in Brittany, France for his very first entry into the race at the weekend.

La Route du Rhum is a 3,542 nautical mile race, which comes around just every four years.

The race takes skippers from Saint-Malo across the Atlantic to the finish line at Pointe-à Pitre, Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

This year marks the 40 anniversary of the race and the most competitive in its history.

Despite never competing in the Route du Rhum before, Thomson begins the race as one of the favourites within the IMOCA class.

He will compete onboard HUGO BOSS, the famous black boat which the skipper sailed to a second place, record-breaking finish, in the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe.

Thomson said: “For me, this race is a real opportunity to test myself and push the boat in order to deliver what we know she is capable of.

"We saw from the last Vendée Globe that HUGO BOSS is one of, if not the, fastest IMOCA in the fleet so I’m excited to see what we can do in this race.

“I’m a very competitive person so of course I’m aiming to win but reliability is also key.

"It’s important that we remember that, while this is a shorter distance and so, in my mind, a sprint to the finish line, we also need to race intelligently in order to ensure that we finish the race.

"As a team, we’ve worked hard to get HUGO BOSS in the best possible shape to do that, so we’re looking forward to getting started.”

This will be the final race that Thomson will compete in onboard the current HUGO BOSS boat.

In summer 2019, Alex Thomson Racing will launch a brand new IMOCA 60, which the skipper will race in the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe.

“Of course, I have some great memories onboard this boat”, he continued.

“Winning the IMOCA class in the Route du Rhum would certainly be a great way to say goodbye.”

The current Route du Rhum IMOCA record, set by French skipper Francois Garbart in the 2014 edition of the race, stands at 12 days, 4 hours, 38 and 55 seconds.

Should Thomson successfully win the race, he will cement himself as a favourite heading into the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe.