British sailor Alex Thomson and his co-skipper Guillermo Altadill are looking towards the 2016 Vendee Globe after an extraordinary sequence of events ended their participation in the Transat Jacques Vabre this weekend.
The pair were rescued by the Spanish coastguard on Saturday afternoon after a rogue wave caught the new Hugo Boss while the yacht was in a hove to position. The boat, which sustained damage to its rig in addition to taking on water while inverted, was later successfully brought to the dock in A Coruna, Spain, after a swift response from the Alex Thomson Racing Team.
The weather conditions in the first few days saw wind speeds in excess of 50 knots (75 km/h) and waves up to 10 metres high. Alex and Guillermo made the decision to take the safest route, passing the weather system to the south. Whilst travelling south west the yacht incurred some structural damage and the skippers took the decision to head for A Coruna, Spain 120 miles away.
The yacht was hove to, whilst Alex and Guillermo waited for the next weather window allowing them to proceed to port. Unexpectedly a rogue wave caught the racing yacht causing the yacht to turn upside down. Alex and Guillermo managed to close the hatches and secure the situation whilst inverted. Alex immediately hit the keel button, bringing the yacht back upright. They then alerted the rescue services and technical team of an emergency situation. The yacht had taken onboard a substantial amount of water and the rig had sustained damage requiring the skippers to leave the yacht.
Alex Thomson explains “I have never experienced anything like it. I was asleep and woke up to a boat upside down rapidly filling with water. Guillermo and I responded together as a team to the difficult situation and now that my boat’s back safely we can focus on our Vendee Globe campaign as a team. We have overcome problems before and I am as determined as ever to succeed.”
Always at the forefront of innovation, the team are pushing the boundaries with an advanced new boat design and know that race conditions provide the ultimate test.
Alex and Guillermo were aiming for a podium finish in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and remain determined to succeed in the Vendee Globe. They will now focus their energy on further improving the yacht and honing its competitive edge.
CEO of Alex Thomson Racing, Stewart Hosford, explained; “We are delighted to have the boat back on the dock and I am grateful to all of our team and the coastguard for their hard work and support. The team will now be working hard to assess and resolve the issues as quickly as possible so that we can resume our training programme. We are as determined as ever to get the boat back sailing and in race condition and continue to focus on the Vendee Globe.”