Alex Thomspson was racing in the Southern Ocean in November of 2006. His fierce – not friendly – competitor Mile Golding and he were about 12 miles apart. Here’s the story that Alex Thompson told Esquire Magazine about the race, his failure, and the rescue: “Mile Golding and were about 12 miles apart. We were going tooth and nail and it was blowing force seven, gusting eight, occasionally nine. It’s incredibly stressful; you’re coming off waves and the boat is in the air and you don’t know how it’s going to land; you’re just holding on. It calmed down a bit so I changed sails and got into bed. When I woke up the boat was on it’s side. Tom Avery: It’s not the first time you’ve experienced problems sailing the in the Southern Ocean…. AT: I’ve been in the Southern Ocean three times and I’ve suffered a hole in the boat for the Vendee Globe, I’ve suffered dismasting the following year, I lost my boat this year and then got dismasted once I was on Mike’s boat. It doesn’t make you want to go down there again, but I probably will. TA: Prior to him turning back to rescue you, there seemed to be a bit of a niggle between you and Mike Golding. AT: There was a big niggle. We weren’t friends to begin with, we were fierce rivals. We were neck and neck in the race and when I had the problem I told race headquarters I needed help. They called Mike and asked him to go and get me. I’d already spoken to Mike and explained what happened. He thought about the whole thing and then slowed his boat down, which was really good of him. It was very emotional for me. At that point, it doesn’t really matter whether it was me or him, you just turn around and do the best you can to go and get somebody. We’re the best of mates now. TA: Is going up the mast in the middle of big seas the scariest part of what you do? AT: To be at 28 metres up a mast in the middle of the ocean when there’s no one else around and nothing anybody could do is horrible. You could hit a wave, a gust of wind could knock the boat over, you could slip and bang your head. I’ve been up masts when the boat’s been knocked flat before. I’ve been up the mast and got my foot stuck and been left hanging upside down for 15 minutes. I’ve been up the mast in 40 knots of wind in the middle of the night. Not surprisingly, I’ve built up a hatred of it. ……for me, single handed round the world sailing, particularly on the non-stop races, is the single most difficult sporting challenge that exists on the planet today. The personal challenge is one thing, the second thing is the competitiveness and the third thing is the boats, which are so awesome to sail. …It’s a stressful buzz, but it’s awesome. That buzz is probably why we do it. .

— courage at sea  

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