Yachtingworld.com chats to Alex Thomson about his devastation about having to quit the race, and his future plans
When disaster struck Hugo Boss over two weeks ago see previous news story here
when she was lying in sixth position in the Vendee Globe, just off the southern most tip of South Africa, life was looking decidedly gloomy for 24-year-old Alex Thomson.
He’d secured 11th hour sponsorship from one of the world’s largest fashion houses and was about demonstrate his true potential on the Open 60 scene and add his success of smashing the 24-hour world speed record earlier this year.
His boat (Roland Jourdain’s old Sill), although relatively old (launched in September 1999) had already proven itself round the world so was a great boat for a first attempt. However, lack of time before the start meant that Thomson was never really going to be 100 per cent happy with boat preparations.
Although Thomson started the race as he meant to continue at the top of the fleet he admitted in an interview with yachtingworld.com today that he spent most of his month on the racetrack fixing things. “Yes, I was pleased with her performance but I really did feel I was fighting with repairs all the time. I spent more time sorting the boat than I did racing her.”
Despite the doom and gloom he experienced when the deck that surrounds the structure, on which the gooseneck is attached, collapsed Thomson is back on form again now and looking forward to what lies ahead. Chatting from his beach-side house overlooking Table Mountain about his feelings Thomson said: “I was absolutely gutted when it happened I felt like my world was collapsing on top of me. And it got worse because of the high winds and the capsize. I was devastated because although I wanted to believe I could fix the boat, it was always in the back of my mind that fixing it on my own would not be possible. I knew my race had ended.”
Having struggled to Cape Town investigations as to what went wrong began. Interestingly it seems that the construction of the deck in the high stress area was not built to specification. Thomson continued: “It wasn’t built as it was designed. The core in the damaged area is nomex. Normally in high-load areas like that you use material such a high-density foam.
“Fortunately work on repairing the damage began immediately thanks to Jaz Marine who, despite being on Summer/Christmas holidays, pulled out all stops to get the work done. The work will be completed in a few days.”
Thomson’s immediate plans are to stay in Cape Town for Christmas “because,” he adds, “it’s hot and I’m enjoying it here. It’s 25-30 degrees here every day.” And then after the New Year head back to England where the boat will go back in the shed for final preparations for the Hugo Boss European tour. “This,” added Thomson, “will include spending time in the Med taking in events such as the Monaco Grand Prix. We’ll then go to Kiel, Cowes and do the Fastnet, and then head back down the Atlantic for the Maxi World Cup. After the Jacque Vabre we then head off for the start of the Sydney Hobart in a year’s time.”
Any record-breaking opportunities on the horizon? “If we get an opportunity to slip in a record or two along the way we will. I’d certainly like to get the Round Britain and Ireland record back again. It really does depend on how quickly we get back.”
His real aim, of course, is to make sure he’s ready for the next Vendee Globe. Thomson concluded: “I will be back, this time with a new boat!”