While in fourth position Hugo Boss hit an unknown object and is now taking on water

While lying in fourth place, the British IMOCA Open 60 Hugo Boss last night reported hitting an unidentified object in the water, damaging the starboard bow of the boat and causing them to take in water. They have slowed the boat right down, have a pump working, are managing the ingress of water.

Skipper Alex Thomson has reported that conditions are stable and they are not in any imminent danger. The British pair are in regular contact with TJV Race Director Jean Maurel. They have been in discussion with their shore team, and with a structural engineer from SP before they make any decisions as to what their options are.

Hugo Boss was approximately 400 miles south of the Azores. Thomson said: “I am gutted, we have done the hard bit, been through the storms and the way ahead was looking very easy. We will monitor the situation overnight and assess in the morning what our options are.”

Further down the race course, abreast of the Canary Islands the three way battle at the front of the fleet continues with Safran still holding the upper hand as the trio negotiate the more tricky downwind conditions at the lower edge of a high pressure before breaking into a more stable SE’ly wind flow.

Safran hold a lead of just less than 34 miles, as the chasing pair squeeze up a little. Now in third, after erring closer to the centre of the high and having less wind perhaps, Mike Golding Yacht Racing are less than five miles behind Kito de Pavant and Francois Gabart on Groupe Bel.

Golding said this morning that conditions for them remain tricky, quite unstable under spinnaker with a difficult seaway. Trying to keep the boat settled in course with their autopilots remains testing and so they continue to maximize their time spent hand steering.

Due to the Hugo Boss problems Spanish entry 1876 is now up to fourth whilst steady progress up the fleet continues for Michel Desjoyeaux and Jérémie Beyou who are up to seventh now on Foncia, overtaking Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson on Aviva during yesterday evening.

Foncia’s next target is Desjoyeaux’s long time friend and rival Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement, just 40 miles ahead, but Veolia Environnement still have some lighter airs to cross while Foncia who were quickest in the fleet this morning, making two knots faster than the leaders.

Comments from onboard:

Francois Gabart (FRA) Groupe Bel
: “It’s going great. Since yesterday morning it’s been tops. We are sliding along under gennaker and it’s really pleasant to steer. Even when you get wet it’s good, so we are happy sliding along in the Atlantic. The trade winds are what we have been looking forward to since leaving France.

But the wind is not so stable, in strength or direction, so we have to steer quit a lot. We are not even that far off gybing. And of course having made it into second we have a smile on our faces this morning. But you have to fight for the small gains, every mile, always trying to go as fast as possible. Safran is the same boat as ours, so we can’t count on being a better design. And so if we want to catch them we need to use the small wind shifts. In the next few hours we will do the gybe and then after that it is roughly a straight line to the West Indies. But all the time I think the winds will be quite unstable, there are always going to be options and ploys to follow, right into the Caribbean.”

Mike Golding (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing: “We are just under kite and just trying to steer the boat with the pilot. We gybed and so that turned out be a bit of a mission. It is good, we are passing through the ridge of the high pressure and trying to choose how to proceed next, conditions are good but there is a bit of a sea running which makes it a bit tricky with the kite and obviously we are having to be a little attentive because we don’t have any wind gear, we had a little problem through the gybe with a squeezer, so have had to change kites, but otherwise all quite normal and cracking along quite nicely.”

Positions, Monday 16 November:

1-SAFRAN – Marc Guillemot – Charles Caudrelier Benac
2-GROUPE BEL – Kito De Pavant – François Gabart
3-MIKE GOLDING YACHT RACING – Mike Golding – Javier Sanso Multicoques

1-CRÊPES WHAOU! – Franck Yves Escoffier – Erwan Leroux
2-GUYADER POUR URGENCE CLIMATIQUE – Victorien Erussard – Loic Fecquet
3-REGION AQUITAINE-PORT MEDOC – Lalou Roucayrol – Amaiur Alfaro

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