RACE UPDATE: 28.11.20 Alex Thomson ceases racing in the Vendée Globe
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”.
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.
RACE UPDATE: 18.11.20 Alex Thomson is currently leading in 1st place
After a week of racing in the Vendée Globe, Alex now heads south after passing through Storm Theta yesterday in some challenging conditions. The routing had HUGO BOSS tacking just before the eye of the storm, however 70 miles from the centre with consistent wind of 50 knots and 5 metre waves, the boat violently broached. Whilst the boat was on its side and head to the wind, Alex decided to sail away from the storm’s centre in a south westerly direction. Since then, Alex and HUGO BOSS have been making good progress leading the fleet south, and as the storm tracks to the east, conditions on HUGO BOSS became more manageable overnight. HUGO BOSS is now sailing at full speed downwind towards the trade winds.
The first 7 days of racing in the Vendée Globe has seen difficult weather conditions for the IMOCA fleet. With low pressure systems scattered across the North Atlantic, the skippers have had to cross some aggressive weather fronts, followed by taking on tropical Storm Theta. During this first period of heavy weather, several boats have been unfortunate to suffer damage, including close rival Jérémie Beyou who has had to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to make essential repairs.
Until now, the fleet has remained close together as the tough conditions have not allowed the foiling boats to show their full potential. With the leaders now passed Storm Theta and approaching the more consistent trade winds, the foiling boats are expected to stretch their wings as they head towards the equator.
Vendée Globe 2020-2021
Thomson is one of the favourites for this year’s Vendée Globe, a gruelling challenge which will see 33 skippers race on their own, non-stop, without assistance for 28,000nm around the world. The race, which takes place every four years, has only ever been won by a French sailor and is widely regarded as one of the toughest sporting challenges in the world, pushing sailors to their absolute limits both mentally and physically.
In the past two editions of the race, Britain’s Thomson has shown himself to be a significant threat to his French rivals, securing third and second place finishes in 2013 and 2017 respectively.
What’s less well known is that Alex Thomson Racing brought in a specialist CFD team, Dr Rodrigo Azcueta’s Cape Horn Engineering, to help deliver an extensive programme of CFD simulations, with the objective of enhancing the performance of the team’s racing yacht.
‘We were fortunate to be able to count on Rodrigo’s expertise in foil design and CFD analysis,’ Thomson says. ‘For CFD analysis, Rodrigo and the team at Cape Horn Engineering are always our first point of call.’
For more details, please read BENEATH THE SURFACE.
Rodrigo comments “After our successful involvement in the design of the foils of the previous HUGO BOSS, without doubt the fastest boat in the fleet during last Vendee Globe 2016-17, we were proudly commissioned to work alongside the Alex Thomson Racing team and French naval architects VPLP to assist in the design of the new foil system for the next generation HUGO BOSS”.
The IMOCA Open 60 race boat has been built with one goal in mind – to win the Vendée Globe in 2020-21
For the 46-year-old sailor, winning the race would be a lifetime goal realised, and a historic moment for British sport: “This is 20 years of my life. So yes, this is what we’ve all been waiting for and what we’ve all been working towards.
“Of course, the race start will look quite different this time around because of COVID and I feel sad that I won’t be able to meet the thousands of fans who show up to support the skippers. That being said, this race is made to be consumed digitally so I feel excited at the thought of being out there in the middle of the ocean competing against the other skippers, entertaining everyone watching at home. This time around, we’ll be doing even more to bring people with us on the journey as I race, so that they feel like they’re onboard experiencing the highs and lows with me.
“Obviously the goal is to go out there and win it. But to get there, you have to finish. And this race is very, very tough to finish. But, if we can get to that finish line, then I’m sure we’ll be in contention for the win. A win would certainly validate everything that we as a team, together with our partners, have put into this journey”.