THE MAST WALKDAY OF SUCCESS
Solo-round-the-world skipper Alex Thomson does it again. After walking the keel in 2012, he wants to go up the mast while his boat leans over.
We are in Cadiz, Spain. It is 7:30 am and the sun is rising over the Mediterranean Sea, tinting the dark blue sky a warm shade of purple. Birds are humming in the air. Alex walks along the harbor: “We have perfect conditions, so hopefully it is going to be fine, but you never know until you’re out on the water. And I am feeling nervous. I don’t like heights particularly. So I don’t know whether I can actually persuade myself to jump off the top of the mast.”
Alex is having breakfast in a small local coffee shop around the corner. Inside it is noisy and busy. People are chatting and the coffee machine is buzzing. After a strong Spanish coffee, Alex suits up for the stunt: “I think if you are wearing a suit that fits perfectly and looks very smart, you feel good about yourself – you know – I think it can raise your self-esteem. You feel more confident. You feel more successful.”
He is happy with the water repellant suit but he is concerned about the wind – a little breeze won’t be sufficient for a pro. Alex wants to go full throttle to get the keel out of the water.
After a few editorial shots on the pier, the black HUGO BOSS rib takes off to bring Alex to the sailing boat. It is 12:15 pm and the low winter sun shines brightly. The chopper is hovering in the air and the wind is picking up. Alex is good to go, yet he remains calm and is still joking. The stunt coordinator raises his hand to start the maneuver.
The boat gets in position - a few seconds later the yacht leans over until the mast reaches an angle of approximately 60°. Now Alex gets the signal to go. He jumps on the sail and has to find his way across some leashes while keeping his balance. Every little bump is a massive eruption up on the mast.
Alex is well aware of what can happen on the sea: “The main danger is that the boat comes up right and I fall from the top of the mast 30 meters onto a hard platform. The best case is broken parts and the worst case is death.”
Alex can reach the top of the mast just before the yacht rights itself again. As he stands on top, time seems to stop for a few seconds. His silhouette against the blue sky really looks amazing. It is the perfect image for his wise saying:
“Success for me is exceeding your own expectations. It’s not about other people’s goals – it’s about your own. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, as long as you achieve or exceed it.”
Standing on the most dangerous place of the yacht, Alex has no time to lose. He turns around and focuses on the dark blue sea. He takes a deep breath and dives into the cold water.
Back at the surface, Alex raises his arm in triumph and happiness. It is a moment of relief for the whole team. Smiles everywhere. Once the adrenaline has gone, Alex admits, “I feel relieved, I feel like I am a bit in shock. Nervous shaking. I was reasonably confident I could persuade myself do it. The team did a good job and was getting in position. We did it in the right way.”
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