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Displaying items by tag: Alex Thomson

Charlie Dalin, the Vendée Globe race leader, should pass the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope on Monday, the first of the mythical 24,296 nautical miles solo round the world’s three Great Capes. That his elapsed time since the race started in Les Sables d’Olonne will be around 22 days might be of some tiny consolation to British skipper Alex Thomson who is heading to Cape Town.

His Vendée Globe may be over because of a broken rudder sustained on Friday evening but the blistering pace of 17 days 22hrs 58 seconds that Thomson leading the 2016-17 race remains intact, and is likely to remain so for at least another four years.

The bitterly disappointed 46-year-old from Gosport, Hampshire in England has explained briefly what happened to his rudder, believing that some discarded or lost fishing equipment caused the fracture.

“I was averaging 21 knots, flying the small gennaker and one reef in the mainsail. I was down below when there was a huge bang and the boat broached violently. The steering system was jammed and all I could do was roll the sails away. Once on deck, I could see the rudder blade was broken and swinging around with a large piece of fishing gear jammed into the cracks. So I think I must have hit something. It certainly looks that way. Now I am having to keep the boat flat while I sail the boat now with just one rudder to Cape Town.”

Even after losing four days and nights slowed to make structural repairs, Thomson was sure he had the capacity to win, “I still felt that we could win it, I really did “I’m obviously devastated.”

From the skippers still racing and fans and supporters around the world there has been a huge outpouring of support and good wishes for the popular skipper. French rival Jérémie Beyou, who restarted nine days after the original start due to damage to his own rudder on Charal send a message of solidarity to the sailor who should have been his closest rival on this ninth edition of the race.

Many race followers had expected and hoped for a Thomson v Beyou title match but the dreams of both race heavyweights are over. Beyou crossed the Equator today and is still over 350 nautical miles behind the 31st placed Kojiro Shiraishi and 3,300 miles behind Dalin, having restarted at 2,715 miles behind the then leader HUGO BOSS.

“It is so tough for Alex. I know how hard it is to be in his place. I have been there and even this time was just inches from being in the exact same situation. I know how hard it is to prepare a Vendée Globe and to do it, three, four, five times, to be there to try and always be reaching that holy grail, that first place. I know all the things he has had to do to prepare his boat, all he has been through to get here, and then he has nothing, no comeback, no closure. I feel so bad for him as bad as if it were happening to me. He called me when I had to turn back and he had some very nice words to say. I told him yesterday to hold his head high because there will be time to analyse it all, but all that he has done to prepare this race is something to be proud of.” Said Beyou when he spoke on the Vendée Globe Live show this lunchtime.

He added, “Hearing Damien Seguin talk earlier and seeing the conditions they have in the Southern Ocean makes me really want to be with those friends up ahead; it is not so easy to be this far behind. I am trying to make the boat go as fast as possible and have chosen a course that is direct down the Atlantic and cut off the corner."

Dalin’s lead remains steady at around 300 nautical miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) while Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) and Kevin Escoffier (PRB) have been trading third place over the course of Sunday.

Among those who remain impressive as first timers in the south are Yannick Bestaven in fifth on Maître CoQ IV, pushing Escoffier hard. Sébastien Simon on the new Juan K designed ARKEA PAPREC has been quick and making steady inroads now in seventh chasing sixth placed Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) who is just 11 miles ahead. Paralympic medallist Damien Seguin is outstanding in ninth driving his powerful, non-foiling 2008 Finot Conq designed Groupe Apicil very hard indeed, likewise Les Sables d’Olonne rookie Benjamin Dutreux on the Farr designed OMIA-Water Family is in 12th, just six miles behind Sam Davies who is 11th on Initiatives Coeur.

Published in Vendee Globe

Alex Thomson, the pre-race favourite to win the Vendee Globe, is out of the non-stop round the world race this afternoon after suffering rudder damage in the Southern Atlantic.

The British sailor is heading for Cape Town after a week of setbacks on his boat Hugo Boss.

The incident occurred on what was Thomson’s 19th day of racing, and it followed significant effort over the last five days and nights repairing cracks to the internal bow structure of his boat. Thomson was getting into his stride at the gateway to the Roaring Forties where his latest generation IMOCA was designed to be at its best.

Alex is currently 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and it is expected to take him around seven days to make the journey.

The British skipper, who was racing in the Vendée Globe for the fifth time, had received huge support and respect from around the world for the efforts he made to repair the bow area but there was no way to safely fix the rudder damage to allow him to race on for the what would have been the best part of one month in the hostile Southern Ocean.

Alex Thomson said, “Unfortunately, a repair is not possible. We therefore accept that this will be the end of the race for us. Myself, my team and our partners are of course deeply disappointed. We believe the best was yet to come in this race”

One of the two outstanding favourites to win this Vendée Globe, Thomson was third on the 2012-13 edition and finished second in 2016-17 after fighting back from being 48 hours behind eventual winner Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn to finish only 16 hours behind the French skipper.

Luck has rarely run in his favour on this non-stop solo round the world race. In 2004-5 on his first attempt he had to abandon into Cape Town with damage to his deck after his boom gooseneck failed and in 2008-9 he had to retire early in the race with structural problems caused by a huge gale on the Bay of Biscay.

A statement from Alex and the team:

*******************
After incurring damage to the starboard rudder of the boat, Alex has ceased racing in the Vendée Globe and is now sailing the boat towards Cape Town.

Alex last night disconnected the starboard rudder and has since been sailing the yacht with just one rudder. After assessing the situation today, Alex and the team have decided that the only course of action is to cease racing and sail the boat to Cape Town.

Alex said: “Unfortunately, a repair is not possible. We, therefore, accept that this will be the end of the race for us. Myself, my team and our partners are of course deeply disappointed. We believe the best was yet to come in this race”.

Alex is currently 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and it is expected to take him around seven days to make the journey. He’ll do so without the use of his starboard rudder and so will proceed safely and cautiously.

Our technical team will travel to Cape Town to meet the yacht upon arrival.

On behalf of Alex and the team, we thank you for your support during this time.

Published in Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe competitor Alex Thomson Racing has issued an alert describing rudder damage to Hugo Boss which is reported to have occurred around 1900hrs UTC this Friday evening.

Thomson has control of the yacht with one rudder, and is safe and in no danger onboard.

Thomson is racing in 12th position and was doing around 10kts in an easterly direction on the 21hrs TU position report. 

Race tracker observers had noticed he was quite slow last night. Now he is averaging 10 knots when all those around him are averaging 17 knots. It is likely his starboard rudder is disconnected as they are all on port gybe at the moment and that would mean his port rudder would be out of the water if he allowed the boat to fully heel.

A team statement reads as follows: at approximately 19:00 UTC this evening Alex Thomson notified his technical team onshore of damage to the starboard rudder of his HUGO BOSS boat. The team immediately advised Thomson to disconnect the rudder to regain steerage. He now has control of HUGO BOSS with one rudder and is safe and in no danger onboard. The team is working to assess the extent of the damage. A further update will be released on Saturday 28th November.

It is yet another set-back for the British skipper the round the world race. The last four days were spent making repairs to the bow after a structural failure cost Hugo Boss the race lead.

Published in Vendee Globe
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British Vendée Globe skipper Alex Thomson has today been forced to slow his HUGO BOSS to a crawl as he attempts to make a technical repair to a longitudinal beam near the bow of his IMOCA.

As Afloat reported earlier, Thomson alerted his team to the problem around 1900 UTC Saturday evening after a routine inspection raised immediate concerns as he raced south-eastwards towards the Southern Ocean part of the leading trio of boats racing south-eastwards some 850 nautical miles east of Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

With the imminent requirement to plunge south for more than one month in the inhospitable waters between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, the 46-year-old British skipper will want to have complete faith in the repairs and in his IMOCA. But a statement issued by his Alex Thomson Racing Team this morning confirms he has the materials and the methods to effect the necessary repairs and aims to be back on course as quickly as possible.

Alex Thomson on Hugo BossAlex Thomson on Hugo Boss

“Alex has now put the boat into a safe position to manage the sea state in order to reduce movement onboard while he carries out the repair. He has all the necessary materials onboard, a detailed plan to follow, and a team of world-class engineers advising him. We are therefore confident in his ability to complete the repair. Our objective is to carry out the necessary repair swiftly and effectively, in order to minimise the miles lost and resume racing again.” Said Alex Thomson’s Racing’s Technical Director Ross Daniel.

Having been in second place in the 33 boat fleet during Saturday, averaging 16kts at times and some 25 nautical miles behind leader Thomas Ruyant, Thomson’s pause had already cost him 150 miles on Ruyant and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) who passed into second 23 miles to windward of the British skipper around midnight last night.

“Supposing it takes Alex 24 hours to effect a repair and get going again he would rejoin the chasing group with Arkéa Paprec, Initiatives Cœur and PRB, he would lose quite a bit as that would put him 1000 miles behind at Cape of Good Hope. But I have been looking at the history of the race as well and remember that last time on the last race he rounded Cape Horn 800 miles behind Armel Le Cléac’h and so I would not call this ‘game over’". Suggested Yoann Richomme, winner of the last Route du Rhum in Class40 and double winner of La Solitaire du Figaro when he was today’s guest on the Vendée Globe LIVE English programme.

Talking about the latest generation of fast foilers Richomme, renowned as a meticulous technician, explained, “These new boats are really tough to sail, they are really hard to engineer and are slamming into the waves with a lot of power, which is most likely happened to Alex. What is hard is that we know that they took their feet off the gas a little in the south on the last race to preserve the boats last time, and I think they will be doing that again. From the scenario we are seeing they need to preserve the boats. When these boats start taking off, they were slamming the hulls a little bit further back but now these boats are fully foiling, flying a lot of the time, it is now the bows which are hitting the waves in front, from 2-3m high at times and the impact on the bows is huge and we know a lot of the boats in France had reinforcements in the bow. We saw CORUM L’Epargne in September have a two-week repair in their bow. They are discovering new problems and we are hoping they have covered off most of them.”

At two weeks since the race started off Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday 8th November there are many repairs, small and not so small, critical and almost incidental, that skipper need to make. Contemplating the descent into the Southern Ocean race leader Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) had to climb the 28m mast of his IMOCA after his spare halyard broke. The two leading IMOCAs, LinkedOut and Apivia are side by side 10 miles apart setting out on a gybing match up as they drop south-eastwards towards an area of unstable air, described by Dalin as ‘mousehole’ through which they must pass to get to the Southern Ocean and a fast ride east towards the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope.

Now the Vendée Globe fleet stretches for more than 3000 miles, Jérémie Beyou in 32nd, has lengthened his stride in the south of the Canaries. Listening to the skippers on the daily calls or reading the messages sent from on board, whatever the age of the boat or its position on the Atlantic chessboard, every day brings its share of problems. Yesterday it was a weather vane for ninth-placed Sébastien Simon, today a composite repair on a part of the foil well for Armel Tripon on L’Occitane and that week-long repair to the mainsail of the Japanese Kojiro Shiraishi. Big or small the problems prevail through the fleet.

Armel Tripon, the skipper of L’Occitane en Provence, reflects, “The boats want to go fast, the chase their predicted speeds and they are built for that and the teams and the architects are pushing all the time to go fast. Now it's up to each of us to sail with our soul and our own peace of mind ".

Published in Vendee Globe
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As he leads onto the trade winds motorway down the Atlantic, between the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes, British skipper Alex Thomson is expected to increase his lead at the head of the Vendee Globe fleet as his foiling Hugo Boss hits its stride.

Accelerating through the day Thomson has shaken off veteran Jean Le Cam, averaging two knots faster, and is the only skipper in the race to have sailed more than 380 nautical miles in the last 24 hours.

NEE’ly Trade winds of 20-22kts are expected to blow for Thomson and the leading peloton over the coming days. Sunday, one week into the race, has offered many skippers in the top group to take essential time to look after themselves, to wash, to make a ‘treat’ meal or drinks, to change into fresh clothes, as they prepare for what will still be a demanding, active period, even if it is a boatspeed drag race on port gybe for several days.

“You can’t forget the trade winds are not as stable as you maybe think, the direction still changes ten to fifteen degrees and the wind will go up and down, there are still gusts and so you have to be attentive and there will be a lot of trimming to do.” cautioned Seb Josse, who is serving as one of the Vendée Globe’s meteo advisers.

Skippers today expressed their admiration for Thomson’s race so far.

“He has mastered the start of this race perfectly with his ingenious, efficient and well-prepared boat,” commented guest of the Vendée LIVE French show this afternoon. “Alex is going to take the fast train south and that can quickly turn into a big lead,” notes Thomas Ruyant from fourth placed LinkedOut at over 120 miles behind Thomson. “And Alex is hungry for it, but so am I.”

One of the pre-race favourites Charlie Dalin, in sixth at 168 miles adrift of HUGO BOSS, wants to stay in the match but acknowledged: "My decision to move out west was because the storm was too early on into the race to take any risks and I did the calculation of what I could afford to lose and try and make up, Alex went full on in the Theta depression and that can give him to make a big margin". Dalin, the Apivia skipper chuckled on the live show "Wait for me guys, I am stoking up the coal, I'm coming! "

HUGO BOSS is due at the latitude of the Cape Verde islands tomorrow and is expected to pass the doldrums on Tuesday. According to Vendée Globe weather specialist Christian Dumard the leaders may be treated to a relatively straightforward crossing into the Southern Hemisphere.

At the Port Olona pontoon in Les Sables d’Olonne, the technical team of experts have been working round the clock onboard Charal, the damaged IMOCA of Jérémie Beyou, aiming to have it ready for Beyou to return to the course. A press conference is planned for 1700hrs CET Monday to announce the decision.

Japanese skipper Koji Shiraishi has managed to lower his damaged mainsail on his DMG MORI and is evaluating the options to repair the tear.

TREATS ALL ROUND

Skippers have been rewarding themselves as they break into warmer climes. "It has been the first day with some time for me, it feels good," admitted third placed Benjamin Dutreux (OMIA - Water Family). “I have been on the terrace (cockpit) having a good coffee”. Each has enjoyed their own way of treating themselves, Alan Roura (La Fabrique) had his first shower, 1 litre of salt water then 1 litre of fresh water. Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) took the time to listen to a "rock" playlist, Boris Herrmann "had a little aperitif and called up his friends".

Damien Seguin, slept seven hours last night, treated himself to a small feast with Parmentier hash and Beaufort cheese. Sunday morning, Manuel Cousin (SÉTIN Group) started the day with a good roasted coffee - “just like at home” - and a piece of chocolate from a chocolate maker sponsor. Clarisse Crémer (Banque Populaire X), too, looked more relaxed. On the deck of her IMOCA she was appreciating the beautiful seascape, "This is the picture-postcard image that you have in your mind of ocean racing.” Said the skipper who admitted to being ‘a bit freaked out’ by the prospect of dicing with the storm Theta, “It feels good to have a lighter heart! "

Published in Vendee Globe
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Alex Thomson leads the Vendée Globe by some 26 nautical miles this afternoon, first to deal with the worst of storm Theta at some 250 miles south of the Azores. The British skipper took Hugo Boss close to the centre of the system as he considered prudent, before a difficult gybe in around 40ks of wind and 5-metre seas around 1330hrs this afternoon, a move which should see him gain significantly on all but the French veteran Jean Le Cam who took a similar track.

The reward for the extra risk is sailing fewer miles than the rivals who are chasing him is being slingshotted out of the low in strong N NW’ly winds which, all going well, should net him significant miles on his fast foiling rivals.

Thomson’s nearest pursuer is 61-year-old Jean Le Cam whose ocean racing history dates back to the 1980s and who won La Solitaire du Figaro three times and finished second in the Vendée Globe in 2004-5. He is sailing a 2007 launched boat with conventional straight daggerboards and leads all of the latest generation foilers other than the radical black HUGO BOSS.

Le Cam is more than twenty miles up on the third-placed Nico Troussel on CORUM L’Épargne.

“I see them behind me these foilers. But as long they are there papy fait de la resistance (literally grandpa resists ed note 1983 french film)! I am 70 miles from the centre of the Theta depression. I am under mainsail alone, I am waiting to see what I am going to do. I always say, do not confuse speed and haste. Here I am calm, the wind rises gradually, it is useless for me to have up sail I won’t need in half an hour. That's the worst thing, you put it up you put it down put it up.

Asked on the Vendée Globe LIVE show today about his passionate public following in typical Le Cam style he quipped, “I'm glad people are with me because this is not an easy adventure. And here I am. I can't not be happy! If I'm not happy there, then I'll never be happy! So I'm happy. I ate a cassoulet this morning, I found the cassoulet to go well with a depression. It does not go with the high pressure but rather with the depression. This is our culture in Brittany. Otherwise, I have sweetbreads to make, but I'll wait a bit. "

“This is the first hors d'oeuvre of this Vendée", was Kito de Pavant’s description of storm Theta during the Vendée Live programme. De Pavant is a three times a Vendée Globe starter who has not yet finished and who had to be rescued in the Southern Ocean by the Marion Dufresne supply ship during the last edition. Seeing the pace and passion of his friend and many times adversary Le Cam. De Pavant teased, “Maybe there is still a place for old people!”

Strategies for Theta vary all the way through the fleet. First timer Clarisse Cremer on Banque Populaire X admitted to being freaked out by it. Louis Burton today said he would play it safe, setting his cursor where he feels comfortable between speed and safety. And then are those who keep smiling, like Kevin Escoffier, busy maneuvering further west in 30 knots of wind at midday.

The PRB skipper Escoffier highlighted the need to keep the hammer down as much as possible to avoid being left behind in a situation which is not so much rich get richer as the poor being left behind in a vacuum of anti cyclonic very light winds.

Escoffier said. “Water started coming into the boat just before I gybed at the depression. Here we go again! It took a fair bit of time to empty everything; the pumps are fast but it still took me 2 hours. When you discover that, after taking a little nap...Well, let’s just say there's nothing like it, it definitely wakes you up! (he says laughing) I'm currently sailing in 30/35 knots, sailing downwind. I’ve given in to losing a bit of speed so that I can shift a little to the west and remain in control. I've moved away from the optimal route, but I'm going to sail as well as I can. Alex and Jean are making a very good start to the race. I made the decision to hang back a little and I'm not alone. Charlie gybed again this morning for the same reasons. I completely understand what Alex and Jean are doing, but everyone has their own path to take. These are never easy choices! I'm going to come out of the depression early tonight. I am happy with my start to the race. This is my second solo regatta and I'm trying to do it right. I've stayed in contact with good boats with good skippers at the helm. I'm proud of that no matter what happens afterwards.”

Meanwhile, some 300 miles to the northeast, back up the track Miranda Merron and Didac Costa were among those stuck in the light winds and oily seas.

And true to the Vendée Globe’s requirement to fix at least one thing a day, Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) took advantage of being close to the Azores to climb to the top of the mast without succeeding in completely solving the problem (damaged wind vanes). Maxime Sorel has been dealing with autopilot problems. And Louis Burton transformed the Bureau Vallée 2 saloon into a “composite workshop” to repair a crack in a bulkhead. "I'm apprehensive the next time we go upwind in heavy seas," he explained.

Published in Vendee Globe

The Royal Ocean Racing Club in London has released a special edition of its Time Over Distance video series with Louay Habib talking to Alex Thomson just days before Alex and HUGO BOSS started the 2020 Vendee Globe.

This is Alex Thomson's fifth race and having come second last time, Hugo Boss is one of the favourites.

The interview was recorded live with Alex exploring the physical and mental strength required for the race, plus details of the radical IMOCA 60 design and the cutting-edge technology on board.

Published in RORC

Alex Thomson has returned to the water onboard HUGO BOSS, the boat which he hopes will lead him to victory in the 2020 Vendee Globe.

Thomson who has strong links to Cork Harbour and is a former Afloat Sailor of the Month now has less than five months to go until the start of the round-the-world endeavour, dubbed the Everest of the Seas.

Thomson and his team - much like their competitors in the IMOCA class - were unable to train on the water for some 9 weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England, however, the team have been able to return to the water to commission the yacht, before re-commencing their training.

The news comes as organisers of the Vendee Globe this week confirmed that the race - which takes place just every four years and is considered the pinnacle event in the offshore sailing calendar - will indeed go ahead as planned on 8th November from Les Sables-d’Olonne in western France.

With less than five months to go until the start of the round-the-world endeavour, Thomson has made clear the team’s sole focus over this period will be maximising their time on the water and optimising the performance of the HUGO BOSS boat.

Over the coming weeks and months, Thomson and his crew will train offshore in a bid to further develop and enhance the performance of the HUGO BOSS boat, which launched in the summer of last year after more than two years in design and build. Thomson will also complete his solo 2,000 nautical mile passage, a final qualification requirement for the Vendee Globe.

“We feel in really good shape” he continued. “Of course, like all the teams, we’ve lost time on the water but that was out of our hands. The team has adapted well and we’ve really made the most of this period. Now it’s about putting the knowledge we’ve gained - and projects we’ve worked hard to develop - to the test. We’re now a few days into our training and I’m very pleased with the decisions that we’ve made so far. HUGO BOSS is performing very well indeed!”

Published in Vendee Globe
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Transat Jacques Vabre competitors Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald are working on the safest place to navigate their damaged 60ft monohull, Hugo Boss, after announcing their withdrawal from the 14th edition of the offshore race.

As Afloat reported earlier, the British duo informed the TJV race office that they were withdrawing from the race with the keel of their brand new 60ft monohull attached only by the hydraulic ram after hitting something in the water whilst travelling at around 25 knots at 09:57 UTC.

Hugo Boss had completed just over a third of the 4,350-mile course of this biennial double-handed race to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil - the longest and toughest in the sailing calendar. It will be little comfort to Thomson that his situation would appear to be a lot better than when he was helicoptered to safety after capsizing his previous boat in 2015.

"Hugo Boss had completed just over a third of the 4,350-mile course"

Both skippers were working with their technical team on the best destination. The newly-launched and much admired Hugo Boss is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 420 miles southwest from Madeira and 380 miles northwest of the Canary Islands.

Hugo Boss positionHugo Boss is about 420 miles southwest from Madeira and 380 miles northwest of the Canary Islands

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

British skippers Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald (Hugo Boss) are out of the Transat Jacques Vabre Race after hitting an object at sea this morning just a week into the offshore race.

The much-fancied British entry that has strong ties to Cork Harbour was 18th of the Imoca race to 484.84 nautical miles leaders Jérémie Beyou and Christopher Pratt (Charal).

Following the incident, Alex and Neal stopped the boat and carried out an inspection to assess the damage sustained. It became apparent that the keel is now only attached by the hydraulic ram.

The new yacht was launched in August as Afloat reported here.

Due to the damage sustained to the boat, the decision has been made that Alex and Neal will not continue on in the race.

The Alex Thomson Racing team is now working to assist the skippers to bring the boat to the nearest port.

Both Alex and Neal are currently safe inside the boat and did not sustain any major injuries.

Published in Offshore
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