A British solo yachtsman sailor has lost a marathon race after sleeping through two alarms and crashing.

Good natured Alex Thomson was leading the 3500 nautical mile Route de Rhum transatlantic event by a massive 15 hours when his power nap went wrong and he ploughed into Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

The 44-year-old prevented his monohull Hugo Boss from being wrecked by using his motor just 70 miles from the finish line. That led to a 24 hour penalty but he took it with remarkable grace.

The Gosport sailor, whose main goal is to win the glamorous Vendee Globe in 2020, said: "I'm going to keep a brave face, keep smiling, come back and do it all again.

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"I don't think I should win the race after hitting Guadeloupe... (it was) very frustrating, but it could have been worse. I have my boat and as you can see I'm all in one piece."

Thomson woke in the early hours to discover he had run aground on Rocky Cliffs, his comprehensive alarm system having failed.

He was sleeping in spells of 20 - 40 minutes every few hours and had one alarm clock rigged to a horn plus a watch which gave small electric shocks. He slept through the horn and the watch didn't work because it was not fully charged.

He was glad Frenchman Paul Meilhat won the race, held every four years.

Meilhat said: "Alex's mishap leaves us chilled because we were all attacking so hard, like mad things. When we put ourselves in situations of extreme fatigue mistakes can be expensive. I am just happy he is OK and the damage to his boat is not too bad.

"I'm a big fan of Alex...he's sailing incredible races with the choices he makes, his speed, his style and he's a great guy. He is the extraordinary character, whether he won or not."