The big repair job

Alex Thomson describes the horror show of the last week after Hugo Boss was mown down by a French trawler
Alex Thomson – poor bastard. A week ago, with just over three to go until the start of the Vendee Globe, we awoke to the news that his immaculately prepared Open 60 Hugo Boss had been struck down by a fishing trawler just off the entrance to the start port of Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France. This was no mere glancing blow. It was a full broadside from a 60ft long 58 tonne French fishing trawler doing 8.5 knots that had Thomson and the two other crew on board not been extremely fortunate, would have otherwise have sliced through their lightweight racing yacht like a knife through butter. “It was hard to comprehend what was happening. That noise of carbon splitting is just horrendous...” recalls Thomson. “I was sleeping on the mid-ballast tank at the time, so if it had been two metres further back there would have been nothing to stop it. The only thing that stopped it were the bulkheads. Without the bulkheads….. it would have been game over. It shows how strong these boats are, I have to say.” The trawler rammed Hugo Boss midships just forward of the mast bulkhead pushing the Open 60 violently sideways and causing the mast to break at the first spreader. What it might have done to them personally had the trawler struck a metre or so further aft does not bear thinking about… The carnage was hideous. After the shock had subsided suddenly the prospects of Alex Thomson taking part in the solo round the world race, an event he had been gearing up to for four years evaporated. “The first couple of minutes were horrendous when it happened,” Thomson recalls with a tremor in his voice that suggests that this moment will be one that