British Skipper, Alex Thomson, is on track to re-claim his lead in The Vendée Globe Race. Over the past 24 hours Thomson has gained 22.2nm cutting Armel Le Cléach’h’s lead on board Banque Populaire VIII from 29.9nm to 7.7nm.
For the vast duration of the race so far, Thomson had been leading the fleet; however a week ago he sustained damage to his yacht, HUGO BOSS, after a collision with an unidentified floating object whilst in the Southern Atlantic. This resulted in his starboard foil breaking off which robbed his IMOCA60 of its ability to foil on port tack.
Despite the damage Thomson was able to hold his lead for a while until the wind angles changed on day 21 and Banque Populaire VIII was able to take advantage of Thomson not being able to use his damaged starboard foil.
The leading pair have just passed north of the Kerguelen Islands, a remote archipelago of islands in the southern Indian Ocean, known as the desolate islands, and are on route to pass Australia on their way towards Cape Horn in South America.
“You certainly feel isolated here in The Southern Ocean” Said Thomson, the only Brit in the race. “You are miles away from land in one of the remotest locations on the planet. There is no one here to help or rescue you if something goes wrong and the only things around you are birds and albatrosses.
“It’s for this reason that you need to be careful in The Southern Ocean. You don’t want to push the boat too hard and break something. I’m currently ahead of the front sailing at 18-24 knots. I’m going to stay conservative and try to nip at Armels heals, If I can”
The Vendée Globe takes place every four years and has historically been dominated by the French. This year’s edition sees 29 IMOCA 60s compete in the race, including Thomson, the only British entrant.
The race is renowned for being one of the most gruelling sporting challenges in the world. Just 71 of the 138 starters since the race’s inception, back in 1989, have successfully completed the race, and three have lost their lives along the way.
Thomson is determined to be the first British skipper to win the race, which could take in the region of 80 days to complete.