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Alex Thomson back racing and out to maintain Vendee Globe challenge after damage to boat

Tom Cary
·3-min read
Thomson is attempting to become the first non-Frenchman to win sailing’s greatest solo offshore race  - Getty Images
Thomson is attempting to become the first non-Frenchman to win sailing’s greatest solo offshore race - Getty Images

Forty-eight hours after discovering structural damage to his boat Hugo Boss and stopping to effect complex repairs at sea, Alex Thomson was back racing in the Vendee Globe on Monday night.

The Briton, who discovered multiple cracks in a longitudinal support beam towards the bow of his boat on Saturday evening, when he was approximately 800 miles east of Rio de Janeiro in the South Atlantic, posted a video on Monday night in which he described himself as “super happy”.

Thomson had led the fleet for most of the race prior to discovering the damage. And while he had by last night dropped to fifth place, some 400 nautical miles behind the leaders, he said he was hugely thankful still to be in the race at all.

“It’s obviously disappointing but I’m not going to dwell on the negatives here because I think there are way more positives.” Thomson said. “It’s positive that I found it before it was catastrophic, it’s positive that it happened in the conditions it happened in, which meant the leaders and the rest of the fleet weren’t moving away at 500 miles a day. 

“So I’m just super happy that I’m still in the race. It could so easily have been the end of the race for me”.

Thomson added that he had probably “a night and a half of work” left to complete the repairs.

“But, looking at the weather, the next few days are going to be quite light, so good conditions for me to finish the job”.

“I’m sailing in the right direction and I’m back in the race. I’m super happy about that. It’s been a tough couple of days, an awful lot of work – cutting, grinding, sanding, gluing and there’s still a lot more to go. It’s certainly not over yet but the structure in the bow is now stable, it’s not moving any more and so I can sail in these moderate conditions, in the right direction. Happy days”.

In the last edition four years ago, Thomson rounded Cape Horn 800 miles behind eventual winner Armel Le Cléac’h, having lost his starboard foil early in the race following a collision with a submerged object, and ended up almost catching the Frenchman.

With this race only around a fifth of the way through, and more than 19,500 miles still to go, the opportunity to re-join the leaders is still very much alive. 

The three other Britons competing in the race are all making steady progress. Sam Davies was lying 10th last night on Initiatives-Coeur, some 489nm behind the leaders; Pip Hare, in 20th place, was celebrating having just crossed the Equator on her boat Medallia; while Miranda Merron in 28th place was celebrating a rainstorm which had washed “a coat of sand from the deserts East of here” off her boat Campagne de France.