Hugo Boss sustains damage in collision
On Sunday night Hugo Boss, skippered by Alex Thomson, hit an unknown object in the water while travelling at high speed causing substantial damage.
Thomson has been carrying out repair work to his rudder for the past 36 hours, however, the damage to one hydrogenerator is beyond repair.
Thomson reported: "Night before last (9th) at 2220 GMT I hit something in the water while travelling at 22 knots. I was at the navigation table at the time and was sailing on port gybe with solent/J2 and two reefs in the mainsail in 28 knots of wind. I heard a loud bang forward of where I was which I think must have been something hitting either the keel or the daggerboard. I heard a series of softer bangs as whatever I hit bumped along under the hull and a final big bang as it hit the rudder and hydro generator.
"By the time I got to the companionway hatch the rudder was in the air and the hydro generator was dragging in the water. The boat broached and went head to wind. I immediately rolled the J2 away and stopped the boat in a big sea.
"On inspection the starboard rudder fuse had broken and the rudder had lifted with minor damage. The hydro generator blade was damaged and one of brackets was in pieces and eventually lost overboard. The rudder tie bar (the previously unbroken one) was also smashed in 3 pieces.
"I set to work swapping tie bars to get the leeward rudder operational so I could steer safely in the right direction. The waves were very big and were coming up and over the transom and mainsheet traveller and were hitting the rudder blade while lifted. Both rudder cassettes sustained some damage while doing this and it was pretty dangerous hanging off the transom while being completely submerged by the waves.
"Eventually I got the working rudder connected and started sailing again with the port rudder in the air. I contacted the team and started affecting a repair to the tie bar. I have been unable to sail at 100% while managing this repair. The repair has been done in a similar way to the previous tie bar but it has been more difficult and time consuming as the breaks were not clean and the conditions to affect a repair less forgiving. I will not be able to repair the cassette damage until it is dry on deck but the team feel that these repairs are not critical right now.
"I expect to have both rudders working by this morning.
"I lifted the starboard daggerboard as far as possible and can see no damage. The keel fin on this boat is made from solid steel, so any damage there should be cosmetic. It is impossible to inspect the outside of the hull between the daggerboard and the rudder but the inner skin looks fine.
"I am gutted to have lost so many miles but fortunate that the known damage is repairable and thatIi am able to continue on my way.
"Longer term I am now down to only one hydro generator which means in the current conditions I will have to shut everything down into power saving mode and work hard to save power to be able to make the finish. This literally means everything off, computer, phone, GPS, etc otherwise I have no chance of making the finish.
"Last night at 2030 GMT I was asleep when the pilot alarm went off. The boat was completely flat and I rushed on deck as the boat tacked. I rolled the J2 immediately and then found the working rudder had lifted and was in the air. I checked the blade for damage and all looks ok this time so I replaced the fuse and set it back down again, tacked the boat back again and got back on my way. More miles lost, but again, not terminal. I have had the working rudder kick up three times all year so it seems a little harsh to hit something twice in almost 1 day but I am thankful that the fuse is doing its job and the rudder is staying in one piece.
"I really hope I don’t get dropped off the back of this lead group with these setbacks."
The hydro generators are the primary power supply on board and with only one of them working Alex has to conserve his power by limiting the use of electronics on board. This will unfortunately mean a reduction in his communications, including communication with family back at home, and limit his media activity. The remaining hydro is working but only usable on one tack (unless he swaps it over) and will charge the batteries when the conditions allow, but it will restrict the amount of power available.