Disaster for Hugo Boss

As Alex Thomson's Open 60 suffers keel issues

Thursday November 23rd 2006, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
British solo skipper Alex Thomson is in trouble in the Southern Ocean, during leg one of the Velux 5 Oceans. At approximately 03.30 GMT this morning, his yacht Hugo Boss was sailing at 18 knots, in 30 knots of wind, when the keel suffered extreme structural failure and the boat capsized. The race office has alerted fourth placed competitor Kojiro Shiraishi (JPN) aboard Spirit of Yukoh, in case Thomson should require rescuing. Thomson is unhurt and is now working with his team to bring the keel under control.

Thomson, one of the favourites in the Velux 5 Oceans race, was almost neck and neck with second placed Mike Golding when the incident happened, with just one nautical mile separating the two boats. He was sailing downwind, around 1,000 nautical miles south of Cape Town, South Africa, with three reefs in the mainsail in order to avoid over-powering the boat.

Thomson issued this statement: “I was in my bunk grabbing a quick power kip when I was suddenly thrown across the cabin as the boat broached. I ran up on deck and went to ease the mainsail but nothing happened. I then went to try and cant the keel, but again nothing happened. By this stage the boat was leaning right over on its side with the spreaders in the water, so I went back down below to look inside the keel box. The section which attaches the rams to the keel had completely snapped off and the keel was swinging freely. I went back up on deck with the boat still on its side. I took all of the sails down and finally the boat righted itself.
“I can’t believe it, I am absolutely gutted. I have learnt so much already in this race about how hard to push the boat and when to hold back, in order to maintain the right balance between speed and safety. To have a problem with my keel at this critical stage in the race, something which I have no control over, is absolutely devastating.” 

Hugo Boss is fitted with twin rams that can angle the keel up to 40 degrees.

Thomson is working with his shore team to resolve the problem and a further statement will be issued once more information is available.

We understand that both Kojiro Shiraishi and Mike Golding are diverting to assist Thomson. It may be that they are forced to abandon the boat.

Editor's note - we feel for Thomson who has put up such a good fight so far this race and was about to launch into a real scrap with Mike Golding. After his boom issues in the Vendee Globe Thomson's main plan for this race was finish. This may not be possible now

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