Hugo Boss said today (Monday) that after exhausting all the options, they had decided to cut the keel off their 60ft monohull after damage forced them to withdraw from the 14th edition of the Transat Jacque Vabre Normandie Le Havre on Sunday.
“Last night Alex and Neal were both able to get some rest on board Hugo Boss,” Ross Daniel, Technical Director at Alex Thomson Racing, said. “In the early hours of this morning the skippers resumed their attempts to stabilise the keel.
“Despite their very best efforts, it became clear that keeping the keel attached would put the boat at great risk. With the keel attached only by the hydraulic ram, and in an unstable position, there was a serious risk of significant damage to the hull.
"it was far too dangerous to keep the keel in place"
“We did everything that we could to preserve the keel but collectively we determined that it was far too dangerous to keep it in place.
“Therefore, with guidance from our team shore-side, Alex and Neal set about cutting the hydraulic ram to free the keel from the boat. After many hours, they were successful in their efforts and the keel is now no longer attached to the boat.”
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 – when they informed the race office that they collided with an unknown object.
The newly-launched and much admired Hugo Boss is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and now about 460 miles southwest from Madeira and 400 miles northwest of the Canary Islands.
“Alex and Neal have filled the ballast tanks on board and fully extended the foils in order to keep the boat as stable as possible,” Daniel said. “They are currently in light winds and a slight sea state, and we are comfortable that there is no immediate risk to the boat or the skippers.
“The next step is for us to put together the best possible strategy to bring the boat slowly and safely to port. We are currently exploring various options and will provide an update in due course”.