Getting around the world in one piece

Alex Thomson on his new look Hugo Boss and how reliability is more important than performance
Alex Thomson is trying to shake off his bad karma. Carnage and destruction are no stranger to the IMOCA 60 class, but the Hugo Boss skipper has attracted more than his fair share, pulling out of the 2004 Vendee Globe with damage to his yacht’s gooseneck and deck, suffering a collision with a fishing boat en route to the start of the 2008 race and then a collision with an unidentified object in the water soon after. There was the loss of his first IMOCA 60 in the 2006 Velux 5 Oceans, the appendicitis before the start of the last Barcelona World Race. The list is quite long... Last year there was some embarrassment for the team when they admitted that buying the ultra-powerful Juan K-designed former Bahrain Team Pindar, which Brian Thompson had somehow got around the world singlehanded in the 2008-9 Vendee Globe, had been a mistake. So they acquired another IMOCA 60 – the third they currently own – in the 2008 generation Farr-designed former Estrella Damm/BT, campaigned in the last Vendee Globe by Seb Josse (until it was forced to retire after a rudder breakage). In this boat, finally, Thomson has succeeded in putting in a sorely needed good result, coming home second in last autumn’s Transat Jacques Vabre sailing with Guillermo Altadill. So what does this mean for Thomson and Hugo Boss’ Vendee Globe campaign? Over the winter, the latest Hugo Boss went through a refit with a difference. Thomson is all too aware of his track record and so the prime driver was reliability over performance. As he puts it: “We had a lot of choices from extreme as cutting the boat off in front of the mast and sticking a new piece on. The reality is - with the Vendee Globe everyone concentrates on