Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR), Chairman of the 5-Oceans Race, and THOMPSON jointly confirmed the entry at the Palma Boat Show, where THOMPSON is participating in a corporate events tour with his sponsors, Hugo Boss.
Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON said, 'I am delighted that Alex is on board for the 2006 5-Oceans Race. He is an extremely talented sailor who's highly tenacious and prepared to push hard to win. Our association with Alex goes back to when he won our other event, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 1998-99. I am delighted to see how his sailing career has developed and his success at working with his sponsors. It is like welcoming back a member of the family.'
THOMPSON added, 'I'm very excited to be taking part. The 5-Oceans Race is one of the sporting greats in the ocean racing calendar with a tremendous role call of top sailors who have taken part. 2006 is shaping up to be a great event. The new course is good and works well for sponsors, and we truly welcome the package of practical support the organizers and ports are providing for all of the skippers.'
The race route starts in Bilbao in Northern Spain and takes the competitors to Fremantle, Western Australia , then onto Florida, USA and back to Bilbao. These ports play a major role in the 5-Oceans Race for the skippers. The combined support of Bilbao-Bizkaia and Western Australia Fremantle totals $2.5 million and provides the 5-Oceans with the infrastructure, professionalism, passion and the financial assistance to help achieve both the skippers' and sponsors' objectives. Skipper support is a priority and both cities have agreed to build world-class race villages, provide race management facilities and all marina and berthing facilities for the boats. In addition, each skipper and shore team of four will be provided with free accommodation when in port.
Behind the scenes, comprehensive television and media distribution agreements are being confirmed through race partner, Global SportNet, together with some innovative and ground-breaking internet plans.
The 5-Oceans Race has received nearly 90 enquiries from prospective skippers considering entering the IMOCA Open 60 and Open 50 classes, many of whom are in the process of building and refitting boats and securing sponsors. The race will have a truly international line up including teams from Spain, Brazil, Australia, Canada, North America, Switzerland and Japan.