Alex Thomson is a sailor who has never been afraid to challenge conventions. Be it innovative hull design, application of technology to gain that extra increment of speed, or the spectacular trilogy of stunts - The Keel Walk, The Mast Walk and The Sky Walk – each delivered on the impressive IMOCA 60, HUGO BOSS.
WATCH MAST WALK
Now, with the radical new HUGO BOSS as he prepares to win the Vendee Globe Race 2020, the Alex Thomson Racing team philosophy of ‘doing things differently to be the best’ is clearly evident.
AN UNEXPECTED BRIEF
When Alex contacted Zhik early in 2019 about the Vendee Globe campaign, it quickly became apparent that there were many synergies between Alex Thomson Racing and Zhik.
Fresh from success with Volvo Ocean Race winners the Dongfeng Race Team, Zhik’s expectation was that the Alex Thomson Race team would require similar levels of extreme ocean protection.
However, once again, convention was put to one side. Even the Zhik team were surprised when, at the first meeting, it was made clear that whilst the boat design was firmly under wraps Alex would not be needing full ocean foul weather gear as he would mostly be below decks!
Instead, the ambition was for lighter gear for Alex to wear day in and day out, across a wide range of temperature and humidity differences. Weight, breathability and enduring comfort was a critical factor. Yet the garments had to provide full waterproof protection in case Alex has to go up on deck in the extremes of the Southern Ocean, as well as be comfortable in the more temperate zones.
Alex Thomson adds, “This last year probably is one of the most challenging build ups to a Vendee Globe Race ever, getting damaged in the TJV race and then the lockdown this year. Zhik’s innovation and design precision is crucial for us. Having the right technical gear which works across all conditions means I can just focus on the racing, without distraction, knowing that I’ll be comfortable through an extreme range of temperatures and weather conditions, even from inside cockpit!”
THE AROSHELL® RANGE
With the radical design of the new HUGO BOSS and its fully enclosed cockpit, Alex is wearing Zhik’s Aroshell® range in the Vendée Globe Race. Designed for professionals and round-the-cans racers, the lightweight shell provides full wet weather protection using Zhik’s Aroshell® fabric technology, a highly breathable, waterproof, 3-layer fabric.
The Smock has soft, comfortable neck and wrist seals, a large, quick-venting neck gusset to get it on and off easily, and the stretchy waterproof fabric allows unrestricted agility when moving around on board.
Drue Kerr, Zhik’s Design & Production Manager comments, “The Aroshell range features Aroshell ® fabric technology, which is optimised for extreme levels of breathability and manoeuvrability. On HUGO BOSS, where Alex is frequently transitioning from deck to the cabin, with large temperature and humidity differences between these environments, breathability is a huge concern. A breathable and dynamic fabric like Aroshell adapts to the varying conditions and is essential for this purpose.”
The other unique thing about Alex’s Aroshell foul weather gear is its high vis pink colour, exclusively dyed to match the colour scheme of the new IMOCA 60.
STAYING WARM IN THE DEEP SOUTH
Despite the amazing enclosed cockpit on board Hugo Boss, the Vendee course will mean being in the colder latitudes of the Southern Ocean, as well as starting from the French Atlantic coast during the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Zhik’s Superthermal Hydrobase® pants and top have been selected as the base layer for the entire Alex Thomson Race team as well as for Alex during the race.
MANAGING MOISTURE AND HOT WEATHER
The Vendee Globe Race sailors must navigate through the windless heat of the Doldrums twice during the Race, and as they push further South, they’ll be heading into summer again.
For milder and warmer conditions Alex will also be using the ZhikDry LT long sleeve top. Super soft and comfortable to wear, these ultra-lightweight tops are made from a fast action, moisture wicking fabric, to keep you cool during activity and hot or humid conditions. Like the Hydrobase, the fabric is treated with an anti-microbial finish treatment, as well as UPF 50+ sun protection.