Back in the Autumn of 2015, the CEO of Alex Thomson Racing, Stewart Hosford of Cork Harbour, had just received news that the very new IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, with Thomson on board testing his latest craft to the limit, had sustained seriously disabling damage off northwest Spain.
To say that Hosford took the news calmly is an understatement. He put his team into action to retrieve the boat and have a rigorous investigation and repair/rebuild programme ready for immediate implementation once the new Hugo Boss was directly available. And then he continued his evening’s programme in Dun Laoghaire, where he’d been invited to be a keynote speaker at the Annual General Meeting and dinner of the Irish Atlantic Youth Trust.
A less able CEO would have been temporarily floored by something which most others reckoned to be a total setback for the campaign. But instead, Hosford’s calmly yet enthusiastically-delivered and informative talk included much of interest about the structure of the Alex Thomson Racing/Hugo Boss setup, and he enlivened it with speculation as to what specifically might have gone wrong in this case, leaving us in no doubt that whatever the challenge the latest in carbon boat-building and engineering might pose in solving the new problems, his team would be able to deal with it and Hugo Boss would be race-ready, properly tested, and a serious contender for the Vendee Globe in Les Sables d’Olonnne in November 2016.
The boat’s subsequent performance in this Race of Races has been the stuff of legend, leading for a while, and then - despite breaking the starboard foil - making a serous challenge for the win in the final stages. It was not to be, with the final leg into the finish in the Bay of Biscay from the northwest being on port tack, which needed the missing foil, thus diminishing Hugo Boss’s performance relative to winner Banque Populaire. But Alex Thomson sailed a great race nevertheless, and as he was born on the coast of North Wales and is thus of the Irish Sea, and also spent five years in Crosshaven as kid while his father was a helicopter pilot at Cork Airport, we’re delighted to make Stewart Hosford and Alex Thomson joint Afloat.ie “Sailors o the Month” for January 2017.