Yachting Art Magazine

Vendee Globe 2020 - withdrawal of Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss

It's a real thunderbolt in this 9th Vendée globe that we've just learned about...

This Saturday 28th November, the Welsh skipper Alex Thomson, aboard his Imoca Hugo Boss, has just announced his retirement from the race, after having been the victim of a new damage.

This new damage, which occurred on the 19th day of the race, effectively deprived him of his starboard rudder, an inextracable situation as the navigator approached the Roaring Forties, in the direction of the Cape of Good Hope.

After assessing the situation today, the welsh  skipper and his team decided that the only solution was to stop the race and head for Cape Town, South Africa.   

This decision was not an easy one, for the Welshman, who was a favourite in this 9th Vendée Globe, alongside a certain Jérémie Beyou, who also suffered damage that forced him to return to Les Sables for a second start and who is now at the back of the race.

Leader of the race six days ago, Alex Thomson had to break down to do some big repairs due to structural cracks at the front of Hugo Boss, which made him drop back to 8th position.

Very disappointed, Alex Thomson is currently about 1,800 nautical miles from Cape Town and the skipper is expected to take about seven days to complete the journey. 

He will do so without using his starboard rudder, and will therefore proceed safely and cautiously. Thomson's racing team will travel to Cape Town to recover him and his injured boat. 

Decidedly, the Vendée Globe deserves its nickname of the Everest of ocean racing. A merciless race that is also won by elimination...

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It has become apparent that this boat is under-designed, structurally. First it lost a keel. Then the longitudinal beam failure. And now this. I would expect that the rudders are designed to have a ‘breakaway’ fault area to save the helm linkage from damage, and replacement rudders stowed on board and replaced as needed.