Alex Thomson has long established himself as one of the daredevils in the sport of sailing. The film made of his stunt shows how the round-the-world yachtsman balances on the mast of his 60-foot boat – at the height of a 10-story building – and climbs higher and higher above water level as the boat cuts through the waves. When the yacht is listing at 60 degrees, Thomson clambers to the tip of the mast and then dives into the sea below – perfectly styled in a consummately cut, water-repellent Hugo Boss suit. The 39-year-old – who is always keen to blaze new trails and devise new and exciting ways to use his yacht – had been planning this most recent trick for months in advance.
The crucial role in the feat – which was performed off the Spanish coast near Cádiz – was played by Thomson’s stunt coordinator Andy Bennett. “There are countless things that can go wrong. The mast is incredibly long, and the strong wind pummels the yacht from every direction. Every time the mast moves, Alex could lose his grip and plunge to the deck.”To ensure assistance was available in case of an emergency, a medical team was on hand at all times, while divers on board a rubber dinghy sailed alongside the yacht.
Skipper Ross Daniel was charged with the challenge of steering the yacht and adjusting the yacht’s angle to ensure that Thomson had the best possible chance of reaching the top of the mast. Daniel: “When the direction of the wind changes, the boat can swing out of control and the mast veer upwards. If Alex can’t hold on, he only has one choice: jump into the water.” Having safely returned to dry land after the stunt, Thomson commented, “We have been planning this trick for a very long time. There were lots of things that could have gone terribly wrong: The wind could have pulled me off the mast and catapulted me onto the deck; I could have hit the water at the wrong angle or surfaced too quickly. These were all factors we needed to consider far in advance. Luckily (and despite my fear of heights), we succeeded in pulling it off. And as things turned out, the stunt was far more dangerous than I would ever have imagined. All in all, I can honestly say that it was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done in my whole life!”
This was not the first stunt we’ve seen from the British yachtsman. A video went viral in 2012 after showing Alex Thomson scaling the orange keel of his yacht from a speedboat. And the intrepid sailor has been making huge waves ever since. Last year he sailed around the world solo in the famous Vendée Globe race, capturing third place and breaking the British record in the process.
Click on the YouTube link below to watch the video: