Alex Thomson will leave Hugo Boss
At 11:00 GMT this morning, Alex Thomson (GBR) officially informed the VELUX 5 OCEANS race organisers that he will abandon ship as a result of the severe structural failure to the keel onboard HUGO BOSS. Fellow British skipper Mike Golding (ECOVER), the nearest competitor in second place, immediately responded to the request for assistance and turned back upwind to assist his compatriot and fellow competitor.
Thomson is unhurt and is currently drifting downwind 1,000 nautical miles south of Cape Town, South Africa, with reduced sail up, making 4-5 knots. Based on the last position of HUGO BOSS, some 80 miles due west of ECOVER, Golding will have to sail upwind in 30 knots of wind and big seas to rendezvous with Alex. Plans to rescue Thomson from HUGO BOSS are being formulated between skippers and race control. Mike Golding expects to reach HUGO BOSS in around 7-8 hours time.
Thomson made the difficult decision to abandon ship after liaising with his shore team to try to bring the keel under control. But sadly the breakage is irreparable and it is with great reluctance that Thomson and the team have concurred that it is not safe for him to continue in the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The skippers are in contact with race control who are monitoring the positions of the boats, and have also requested Koji Shiraishi on SPIRIT OF YUKOH make best speed towards HUGO BOSS to provide assistance and back-up.
Alex Thomson’s shore team issued the following statement:
“Alex and his shore team have found a temporary solution but it is just not reliable enough for him to risk continuing in the VELUX 5 Oceans yacht race. Alex is very tired and hugely disappointed but he is being extremely focused and pragmatic. His safety is of utmost importance and the priority now is to get Alex safely off the boat.”
David Adams, Race Director, commented, “The safety of all the skippers is the most important priority for us. The minute that Alex informed us that he was going to abandon ship we requested that Mike Golding turn back to assist in a rescue. We have continued to liaise with all the relevant teams, as well as the South African marine rescue coordination centre. We are in regular communication with Mike, Alex and Kojiro.”
Dubbed the ‘Ultimate Solo Challenge’, the VELUX 5 OCEANS is a 30,000 nautical mile single-handed yacht race, taking the skippers through some of the toughest and most extreme conditions on the planet. Thomson was en route from Bilbao (Spain) to Fremantle (Australia). Sailing solo around the world is truly one of the world’s toughest sporting endeavours. Since the start of the race from Bilbao, the fleet of the VELUX 5 OCEANS has been hit by hurricane force winds that forced 4 boats back to shore and now in the Southern Ocean, the skippers are experiencing some of greatest challenges in sport.