Skipper: Alex Thomas
Boat: Hugo Boss (3rd place)
Taking third place in the Vendée Globe, Alex Thomas, 38, set a new non-stop round the world record for a solo British sailor. He finished the race in 80 days, breaking the previous record by nearly eight days.

Everything on Hugo Boss is made of composites except for the keel. “Sails, mast, boom, rudder, hull, bulkheads, deck, etc. Nearly everything is a composite structure. That’s why Alex Thomson Racing asked us to support them as a technical partner – before, during and after the race,” says Isa-Kristin Braun, head of marketing and public relations at Caterham Composites.

Caterham Composites faced challenges with materials, budgets and time constraints when it created the sliding coach roof for the Hugo Boss. The company aimed to protect Thomas from the intense weather expected during the Vendée Globe race and help him perform to his full potential. “The weather I faced gave me ample opportunity to push the adjustments that we made to the coach roof to the limit and I’m pleased to say it’s excellent,” says Thomas.

According to Braun, Caterham Composites used readily-available carbon fiber materials in various forms for the outer part of the coach roof. “We used a virtual development process with two-stage composite optimization, implemented with Altair Engineering’s HyperWorks software suite. For the core of the product, we chose foam and Nomex,” says Braun.

Once the race began, harsh conditions took a toll on several skippers. Of the 20 yachts involved in the race, only 10 finished. Nine individuals dropped out of the race due to collisions, electrical issues and damages. One skipper was disqualified for receiving assistance. The nature of the Vendée Globe itself was the biggest challenge for each sailor. It’s not just the 80 days at sea that’s difficult: It’s the years of preparation and the work it takes to get the boat on the starting line in the best condition.