Alex Thomson broke his own British record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe
The Hugo Boss skipper was plagued by problems as he duelled with Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h for most of the 25,000-mile round-the-world slog, and eventually finished 16 hours behind.
He matched Dame Ellen MacArthur's second-placed finish in the 2001 edition of the Vendee Globe and broke his own British record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in a monohull.
"You hope and you pray, but I think 24, 36 hours ago I knew that was the end," Thomson said of his chances of winning.
"The last few days I haven't really slept very much. I think I have slept five hours in three days and in the last 24 I haven't slept at all. The tank is on empty.
Alex Thomson congratulated Vendee Globe winner Armel Le Cleac’h
"Congratulations to Armel. He is an absolute machine. He's such a great sailor. To come second twice – he had to be first this time. He's an efficient sailor, and so talented. He's very understated, very modest and his team too.”
Thomson's biggest wishes now are to sleep, wake up with his family and have his life back after such relentless hardship at sea, where after just 13 days in an unidentified object in the water tore off his starboard foil.
"I spent the whole race thinking 'what if?' and I've had the frustrations but I don't really want to talk about it any more. It happened, it's finished, it's over,” he said.
"The race is as it is. I am very happy to be in second place and maybe next time it will be one better.
"I had moments of pleasure, for sure. For me, it was an exercise in trying not to be frustrated and try and be as positive as possible. It wasn't easy. Maybe I made it seem easy.
"I didn't enjoy this race as much as the last race, so it is not always as it seems."
Thomson was clearly mentally and physically exhausted after crossing the line, but competing in a fifth Vendee Globe is clearly a tantalising prospect.
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"A third, a second – it is easy to see what comes after this," Thomson said.
"We'll have to see. If I can put together a competitive campaign and we can take the level to the next one, I'd very interested to do the next one. I'd best ask my wife first!"