Alex Thomson has this morning made the decision to retire from the Vendee Globe

Alex Thomson has this morning made the decision to retire from the Vendee Globe. Thomson hit hard times last Thursday when the when the deck surrounding the gooseneck support collapsed leaving a gaping hole in the deck a risk of loosing the mast. He has spent the last five days struggling in light winds to make headway towards the coast of South Africa where he hoped to carry out repairs and re enter the race track as soon as he could.

However, Thomson learnt this morning from Lombard the yacht’s design team, that the damaged area of deck, which was under huge compression, was not reinforced enough and failed. “It appears that the deck was not built to our original specification,” confirms Eric Levet of naval architects, Marc Lombard, “as reinforcements are missing from the original construction stage, five years ago.  This is why the deck skins have collapsed around the post, leading to this disastrous outcome.   “The area damaged is located in a highly stressed zone at the back of the mast step, where compression loads are enormous.  We are very disappointed for Alex and the whole team as they have done a wonderful job since the start of this project.”

They also added that he would not be able to affect the repair with the materials he has onboard.

Commenting this morning on radio Thomson said: “We have just made the decision. After this interview I will put my engine on and motor towards Cape Town as fast as I can. I have to act in a responsible manner. I have to leave Cape Town in a boat that can get me round in one piece. I don’t want to put someone else’s life in danger by causing a rescue in the Southern Ocean.”

Reflecting on the last four weeks Thomson concluded: “To come out of Sables d’Olonne, with so many interested people and so much support was one of the memorable moments of my life.

“The race started so well, being at the top of the mast and many other particularly challenging moments. I love the crisis situations, and to find something positive out of it. The Vendee Globe is fantastic; the amount of support in France and at home has been amazing? I will be back in four years time to do it again.”