Alex Thomson has just reported serious damage to his yacht Hugo Boss

Alex Thomson has just reported serious damage aboard Hugo Boss. He’s okay but has a hole in the deck caused by the collapse of the gooseneck supporting structure.

He’s currently heading downwind in 45kts of wind towards Cape Town where he’ll decide what to do.

Chatting from the boat – currently in 7th position 958 miles from the leader – Thomson explains:

“I’m fine but my boat is sick. I had lots of wind, 40 knots gusting more. I was under 2 reefs, ORC and had taken down by staysail. I went below. The waves were very steep and the boat was slamming. All of a sudden I heard a big crack, the very distinctive sound of breaking carbon. My first thought was for the mast but the noise was coming from lower down. I checked down at the keel but that was ok and then I looked up and I could see daylight. The base of the gooseneck had collapsed through the deck leaving a hole 1ft by 1ft, the gooseneck half in, half out of the boat. It was a very upsetting experience after all the problems of the last week.

“My mast is ok though and I have sent some pictures to the architects Lombard to see what they recommend I do. I’ve currently got 45 knots of wind, gusting at 50 knots. I have some material aboard but my gut feeling is that I haven’t got enough. For now I’m concentrating on keeping the boat dry so going north looks like the only solution! I’m just trying to minimise the damage. We’ve put so much time and work and money into this project and I am absolutely gutted…but I’m not done with the Vendée Globe.”

Meanwhile further up the fleet there’s a real battle going on but Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) is gradually stretching out his lead. Having snatched the lead from Vincent Riou yesterday, Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) is streaking ahead and has extended his lead to nearly 50 miles during a 24 hour period. Riou rounded the Cape of Good Hope in the lead yesterday afternoon but a gybe, which put him on a course towards the coast of South Africa, allowed Le Cam to sneak through.

Having enjoyed a high wind sleighride for the past three days taking back 200 miles on the leading boats and breaking the 400-mile barrier (409 miles in 24-hours), British sailor Mike Golding (Ecover) is now wallowing in just 8 knots of wind and lumpy seas. Chatting this morning he said: “I’m pretty much stopped – no wind. Looks like my luck’s run out. Tried to hang on to the wind but not for long enough. Shame, it was a good try.”

He continued: “I’ve been trying to get as far as I can on this front, but now I’m a bit pickled about what to do next. As usually seems to happen, I think I’ve ended up on the wrong side.” Golding said he was prepared to sail in the wrong direction if it got him to the next patch of favourable breeze. “Even if I’m losing five or six miles an hour, it’s worth it. I might as well make progress towards the better breeze. It’s a difficult one because the routing is half telling me to go south, and half telling me to go north. It’s a real split decision. The temptation is to stay north with the group, but there is a southerly option there.”