Alex Thomson reflects on a year ago
Exactly twelve months ago today, whilst sailing solo round the world in the VELUX 5 Oceans race, British skipper Alex Thomson suffered extreme structural failure to the keel of his 60 foot yacht HUGO BOSS and was forced to abandon ship. One year on, Thomson is back out on the high seas, racing his new yacht HUGO BOSS in the inaugural Barcelona World Race, a double-handed non stop round the world race.
Unhurt but severely shaken, Thomson was famously rescued on 24th November 2006 by British rival Mike Golding, and after a difficult transfer to Golding’s boat Ecover, the pair sailed 1000 nautical miles to nearest land, South Africa. Thomson returned to the UK in December to oversee the build of his new Open 60, which had already begun in Lymington, UK. Abandoning his beloved boat in the middle of the Southern Ocean, farther from land than any sailor could possibly be, Thomson was forced to seriously consider his ocean racing future. His ultimate dream still stood; to be the first British sailor to win the Vendée Globe in 2008 and he began to prepare for the Barcelona World Race which started on Sunday 11th November.
Today, one year on, Alex and Andrew ‘Capey’ Cape are currently in sixth place as they head south down the Atlantic through the doldrums towards the island of Fernando de Noronha. They expect to enter the Southern Ocean – the first time Alex will have returned since abandoning his previous boat – in mid-December. With 22,675 miles to go there’s a whole race yet to be sailed.
Commenting on the anniversary of his keel failure, Alex said: “Today is a big day for me, mentally. In a way the past year has flown by, we have been so busy getting the new HUGO BOSS ready for the Barcelona World Race. But here on the boat early this morning we were flying down waves at over 20 knots with a full moon feeling on top of the world. For sure the last 12 hours have been some of the best sailing I have ever done and it seems to me a good omen considering the terrible situation I found myself in a year ago, feeling so utterly helpless, distraught, disappointed and gutted.’
The fleet will race across the South Atlantic, through the Doldrums, before heading into the Southern Ocean and on to New Zealand. The boats will then pass through the Cook Straits before heading south-east to Cape Horn and finally north up the Atlantic to the finish in Barcelona. The 25,000 mile course should take three months to complete, finishing in February 2008.