Thomson remains optimistic

Source: AFP Published: 2020/11/24 17:18:41

British sailor battles with repairs to stay in Vendee

British skipper Alex Thomson sails his Hugo Boss after the start of the Vendee Globe round-the-world monohull solo sailing race in Les Sables-d'Olonne, France on November 8. Photo: AFP


Alex Thomson continued working on his damaged boat on Monday as his hopes of becoming the first non-­Frenchman to win the Vendee Globe appeared to be dwindling.

The Welshman, who was leading the solo non-stop round-the-world yacht race, ran into difficulty late on Saturday, around 800 miles east of Rio de Janeiro, with a "possible structural issue" with his boat Hugo Boss.

He was forced to cut speed to six knots which allowed French skippers Charlie Dalin in Apivia and Thomas Ruya in LinkedOut to go ahead. By 17:00 GMT on Monday, Thomson was down to fifth, 380 nautical miles behind Dalin in the lead.

In a message posted by his team early on Sunday, Thomson said the problem was "a bit of a shock at first but that it could have been a lot worse.

On Monday, he struck a more positive note. 

"Not a good time yesterday," he said in a video posted on the race website. "I was checking round the boat and I found a problem in the bow."

"It's fairly significant," he added showing parts of the boat's internal structure that had cracked or snapped.

"The good news is we carry so much materials on board to fix this type of thing," he said. "The other good news is I'm not in the Southern Ocean so I've got good conditions to be able to do he job."

"I feel super-positive, happy to crack on get this job done and get back in the race," he said. "It could take another day or so to do the repair. But the engineers and ­designers are super confident the boat will be as strong, if not stronger, than before."

Dalin found some extra wind to take over the lead on Monday and was almost 30 nautical miles ahead of Ruyant at 17:00 GMT.

There is a gap of more than 280 nautical miles back to French veteran Jean Le Cam in Yes We Cam!.

Race rules do not permit skippers to put ashore or have anyone else on the boat, meaning they have to carry out all repairs themselves.

"I'm disappointed obviously but this is the Vendee Globe," said Thomson in his earlier message. "This is what it entails. You've got to be able to deal with this stuff... I will do whatever it takes to stay in the race."

Dalin, Ruyant and Thomson are in the new generation of "foilers" - boats equipped with foils which help lift the boat so that it is virtually flying across the top of the waves - as they descend a corridor of modest breeze between two evolving zones of lighter airs, an 800-nautical-mile stairway down to the strong winds of the Southern Ocean.

So far, there has only been one abandonment from the 33 starters, that of Nicolas Troussel after a dismasting last Monday off Cape Verde. 

Jeremie Beyou, also in a "foiler," had to return to the start to repair his boat Charal before setting off again on Tuesday. 

The finishers will complete approximately 24,296 nautical miles around the globe before they finish back in France at some point in January.


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