November 3 2019
Alex Thomson and his co-skipper Neal McDonald have been forced to retire from the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre, the team’s debut race onboard the new Hugo Boss sailracer.
At 09:37 GMT this morning, while sailing at approximately 25 knots, Thomson and McDonald, onboard the Hugo Boss Imoca 60 sailboat, hit a submerged unidentified object in the water. Both skippers escaped without major injuries however the boat sustained damage to its keel, marking the end of the race for the British sailing team.
Following the incident, Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald stopped the boat and carried out an inspection to assess the damage sustained. It became apparent that the keel is now only attached by the hydraulic ram.
Due to the damage sustained to the boat, the decision has been made that Alex and Neal will not continue on in the race. The Alex Thomson Racing team is now working to assist the skippers to bring the boat to the nearest port. Both skippers are currently safe inside the boat and did not sustain any major injuries.
Speaking from onboard the boat after the incident, Alex Thomson said:
“This morning, Neal and I were both awake, going about 25 knots, when we hit something in the water. I was stood inside the cockpit just behind the pedestal. Neal was just behind the cockpit door. We’re not sure what we hit but it was something big under the water, which must have been submerged to have hit our keel and physically stop the boat at 25 knots. The keel sustained a lot of damage and it was left attached only by the hydraulic ram. Neal and I are both physically OK. No major injuries, just some bruises. We were very lucky. If you were to get into your car, close your eyes, and drive at 40 miles an hour into a brick wall…that’s what it felt like!”
Since the incident occurred, the skippers – with guidance from their technical team shore-side – have been working around the clock to stabilise the keel in order to allow them to sail safely, without assistance, to the nearest port.