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Alex Thomson returns home onboard HUGO BOSS

Alex Thomson and his crew today arrived back to their home base of Gosport, England having sailed close to 8,000nm from Cape Town onboard the HUGO BOSS boat.

After departing from Cape Town last month – following his retirement from the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race – the skipper and his crew of three spent close to four weeks at sea, delivering the IMOCA racing yacht safely back to port.

The ocean racing team will now undertake a routine service of the yacht on the UK’s south coast before announcing their plans for 2021 and beyond.

“It’s great to be back home. 8,000 miles – I’ve learned an awful lot, as we always do when we go sailing and I’m looking forward to looking back at that data and doing some analysis” said Thomson.

“For me now, I’ll go home and spend some time with my family. HUGO BOSS will come out of the water and go into a service, which shouldn’t take long. No major issues to report, apart from a bit of a tidy up of the repair I’ve done and then we’ll be back in the water very soon. 

“I know a lot of you have been asking what’s next for me and the team. Well, there’s a lot to think about. There are a lot of opportunities and I’ll be sitting down with my team over the next few weeks to talk about it. So as soon as I know…you’ll know!”

Alex Thomson departs Cape Town and ‘heads for home’ onboard HUGO BOSS

Alex Thomson today departed from Cape Town, South Africa to begin the 6,500nm journey back to the UK onboard his HUGO BOSS boat.

After being forced to retire from the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race – which is still under way – Thomson sailed his IMOCA yacht to Cape Town where the boat remained over the Christmas and New Year period.

Thomson and members of his technical team this week returned to Cape Town, successfully replaced the boat’s starboard rudder – which was damaged beyond repair, causing the skipper’s withdrawal from the race – and have since been preparing to sail the boat back to the south coast of England. The delivery is expected to take Thomson and his three crew members around three weeks to complete. 

“I’m looking forward to getting back out on the water sailing again” said Thomson, as he prepared to leave the V&A Marina in Cape Town today. “Of course, this is certainly not where we expected to find ourselves. We were expecting to be up there, competing with the leading boats in the Vendée Globe. But we’ll be watching the race closely and wishing all the skippers the very best for the rest of the race.

“For us, the next three weeks provide a very good opportunity to get some more miles under our belts and to learn even more about this beautiful boat and what she’s capable of. We’ll also be continuing to develop some of our game-changing onboard technology projects alongside the team at Nokia Bell Labs”.

 

Alex Thomson arrives safely to Cape Town and formally retires from the Vendée Globe

After irreparable rudder damage put a stop to his quest for victory in the Vendée Globe, British sailor Alex Thomson has arrived safely in Cape Town, South Africa.

It took the skipper almost seven days to make the 1,800nm journey to port, sailing his IMOCA racing yacht with just one rudder. Thomson began the journey on Saturday (28th November), after he was forced to cease racing, 19 days into the solo, non-stop, unassisted round-the-world yacht race.

Speaking today from Cape Town, Thomson said: “I’m certainly relieved to be back on dry land but I have very mixed emotions today. I’m still coming to terms with what’s happened, and I’m obviously utterly devastated that this is how the race has ended for us.

“But, as I’ve said before, it’s in our toughest moments that we find our greatest strength. Now we have to pick ourselves up and move forwards, and I’ve no doubt that we can do that together as a team”.

The 46-year-old sailor from Hampshire was one of 33 skippers to begin the Vendée Globe from Les Sables-D’Olonne in France on 8thNovember. The ninth edition of the iconic race, which takes place just every four years, has already seen a number of boats suffer technical failures, collisions or fall victim to the tropical storms and changing weather conditions.

“Over the past week or so we’ve been reminded of just how difficult this race is. I’ve said it time and time again but there really is no sporting challenge in the world as tough as the Vendée Globe. I have such admiration for any skipper who takes on this race. My thoughts go out to those who, like us, have had their races cut short. And I wish the remaining skippers a safe passage and a good race. I’ll be watching closely.

“My arrival here in Cape Town marks our retirement from the race. To everyone who has sent messages – a huge thank you. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received. It means so much to us, it really does.

“Right now, I’m looking forward to a shower, some sleep and getting home to my wife and my beautiful children”.

A message from Alex

For the best part of 20 years, this race has been my goal. We’ve come so close before. And this time, I really thought it was possible. I have the boat of my dreams. We put together a campaign that I am extremely proud of and, despite the setbacks of the last week, I still thought it was possible.

I’ve given my life to this sport and it’s a very difficult pill to swallow. So many people have supported me along the way and I can tell you, picking up the telephone to deliver the news, it’s heartbreaking. This sport, this race, it’s just so tough.

The messages of support have been incredible. I don’t feel worthy. But also from the other skippers and the teams, your words have really touched me. I sincerely hope you all make it safely to the finish.

Now I need to concentrate on taking this beautiful boat home. Getting out of Cape Town safely, and there I’ll officially retire from the race.

The last thing I need to say is to say thank you to everybody who has supported me. To my team, thank you for your dedication and your hard work. I know you couldn’t have done more. Thank you also to our partners who’ve worked tirelessly with us. You’ve shown such dedication. Such loyalty. And I can’t thank you enough.

I couldn’t quite make history this time round. But I can tell you, I gave it everything – everything – I’ve got.

 

Alex Thomson ceases racing in the Vendée Globe

November 28, 2020. After incurring damage to the starboard rudder of his boat, British sailor Alex Thomson has ceased racing in the Vendée Globe and is now sailing his boat towards Cape Town.

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

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”.

The incident occurred on what was Thomson’s 19th day of racing in the round-the-world Vendée Globe yacht race, which began on Sunday 8th November from Les Sables-d’Olonne on France’s west coast.

Alex Thomson is currently approximately 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and it is expected to take the skipper 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. Thomson’s technical team will travel to Cape Town to meet the yacht upon arrival.

Team Statement

At approximately 19:00 UTC this evening (Friday 27th November) – 19 days into the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race – Alex Thomson notified his technical team on shore 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 the yacht 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.

“Back in race mode” and headed into the Southern Ocean

Alex Thomson is back in action in the Vendée Globe and preparing to enter the Southern Ocean, after structural damage onboard his HUGO BOSS boat temporarily halted his hunt for the title.

The British sailor unearthed the damage to his IMOCA 60 boat on Saturday evening (21st November), 13 days into the solo, non-stop, unassisted, round-the-world yacht race.

He was forced to slow the boat to make crucial repairs with support from his technical team, engineers and architects on shore. After 48 hours, the skipper was able to hoist his sails once again but has since had to maintain a cautious speed in order to complete the final stages of the structural repair work.

Now, 19 days into the race – which is expected to last around 70 days – the 46-year-old sailor from Hampshire is back sailing at full speed and preparing to enter the most notoriously challenging stage of the race, the Southern Ocean.

“It feels good to be focusing back on the race again and chasing the leaders into the Southern Ocean” Thomson said. “There is a long way to go but I’m feeling good and looking forward to heading downwind finally where I think we’ll really see what HUGO BOSS is capable of”.

Thomson is now more than 6,200 nautical miles (nm) into the 24,000nm race, which takes place just every four years and is widely regarded as one of the toughest sporting challenges in the world, not least because of the perilous conditions faced by the sailors who compete in it.

“So much is required of these sailors” said Ross Daniel, Technical Director at Alex Thomson Racing. “They have to be the skipper, the navigator, the meteorologist, the boat builder and so much more. What Alex has just been through is a massive task to take on, and he will always be his biggest critic. But he is a very experienced skipper and we have complete trust in him”.

Thomson, onboard HUGO BOSS, is now around 670nm behind the race leader, Frenchman Charlie Dalin on APIVIA. The Brit will no doubt be bolstered, however, by the memory of the 2016-17 Vendée Globe, which saw him finish in second place, less than 24 hours behind the race leader, Armel Le Cléac’h, having been around 800nm behind Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn.

“We’re certainly pleased to be back in race mode again” continued Daniel. “Today, we look to be the fastest boat in the fleet so that’s certainly good to see. We need to remember that there is still a long way to go so we shouldn’t necessarily expect to see Alex pushing the boat too hard, too soon. But what we can expect is to see is him back out there, focused on trying to win the race. That’s what we came here to do”.

Team Update: Preparing for the Southern Ocean

Update from Ross Daniel, Technical Director at Alex Thomson Racing: 

“Yesterday evening, Alex decided to take advantage of the light conditions to further reinforce the repairs that he has done onboard HUGO BOSS in order to increase the safety factors before he enters the Southern Ocean.

“To do this, he had to slow the boat down slightly so that he could work in relatively stable conditions. With the new weather front crossing the fleet today, which will carry them south, Alex knew that last night would be his last opportunity to complete this reinforcement.  

“This morning we’ve been able to take a good look at the work that Alex did overnight. It looks good and we are very happy with what he has been able to do.

“Alex is now back into racing mode and is preparing for the Southern Ocean”.

Alex Thomson “sailing once again” onboard HUGO BOSS

Just 48 hours after he unearthed structural damage to his HUGO BOSS boat – on day 13 of the Vendée Globe round-the-world yacht race – Alex Thomson has confirmed that he is sailing once again.

Thomson discovered damage to the bow area of his IMOCA yacht on Saturday evening UTC and, after alerting his team on shore, was forced to bring the boat to a stop while he carried out a complex repair at sea to reinforce the structure inside the boat.

With the help of his team, led by Design Manager Pete Hobson – together with naval architects, VPLP and structural engineers, Gurit – the 46-year-old skipper was able to stabilise HUGO BOSS, undertake the repairs, and has now begun sailing once again.

“I’ve got a sail up again!” Thomson said. “I’m sailing in the right direction and I’m back in the race. I’m super happy about that. It’s been a tough couple of days, an awful lot of work – cutting, grinding, sanding, gluing and there’s still a lot more to go. It’s certainly not over yet but the structure in the bow is now stable, it’s not moving any more and so I can sail in these moderate conditions, in the right direction. Happy days”.

Having led the fleet for much of the race prior to discovering the damage, the Brit has since dropped into fifth place, around 400nm behind the race leader, Frenchman Charlie Dalin. However, with the race only around a fifth of the way through, and more than 19,500 miles still to go, the opportunity to re-join the leaders is still very much alive. 

“It’s obviously disappointing but I’m not going to dwell on the negatives here because I think there are way more positives.” Thomson continued. “It’s positive that I found it before it was catastrophic, it’s positive that it happened in the conditions it happened in, which meant the leaders and the rest of the fleet weren’t moving away at 500 miles a day. So I’m just super happy that I’m still in the race. It could so easily have been the end of the race for me”.

Thomson won the hearts of fans around the world when, in the 2016-17 edition of the Vendée Globe, he finished in second place, despite suffering irreparable damage to his hydrofoil just 12 days into the race.

“I’ve been here before, and all you can do is get back on your feet and keep pushing forwards. I’ve probably still got a night and a half of work to do but, looking at the weather, the next few days are going to be quite light, so good conditions for me to finish the job”.

 

“This is the Vendée Globe. You have to be able to deal with this stuff”

Alex Thomson shares an update following the news announced yesterday by his team, that he had discovered structural damage on the HUGO BOSS yacht, 13 days into the Vendée Globe.

“It was a bit of a shock at first but obviously it could have been a lot worse. It’s repairable and we’re not yet in the southern ocean.

“I called my technical team and they got the right group of people together – the designers, the engineers, the team. While they were digesting the information, that was my time to sleep. Knowing it was going to be a big job to get it all done, I got myself about six hours sleep so that I’d be ready.

“Then we started running through the repair plan so that I could fully understand it and ask the right questions. The first part of that was to stabilise the hull so that involved some cutting, gluing and bolting. That’s done now and it’s been laminated. The next part is to get the rest of the repair prepped. I need to get all the materials together and do as much of the cutting now while it’s still light. Then the rest of it doesn’t matter because it’s in the bow and it’s dark in there anyway. It’s really humid up in there. But we carry quite a lot of materials – under-water resin, glues that can deal with humid conditions – so the materials can deal with it quite well. I imagine a lot of teams don’t carry as much as we do.

“I’m in a rhythm now so I’ll keep going for as long as I can. It’s quite an intricate job so I can’t rush it and I need to make sure it’s right.

“I’m disappointed obviously but this is the Vendée Globe. This is what it entails. You’ve got to be able to deal with this stuff. This is why we carry these materials and tools, and why we’re generally very good at being able to deal with these things. Normally I feel angry and sad and emotional but I don’t this time. I just need to get on with it. I’m sure at some point the emotions may go the other way but, for now, there is only one thing to do and that is to get the job done as best as I possibly can. I will do whatever it takes to stay in the race”.