Should Alex Thomson have sunk Hugo Boss?

Yachting Monthly wonders whether Alex Thomson ought to have scuttled his abandoned Open 60 Hugo Boss. I don’t know if I should weigh in, but…. you know how it is: have blog, will comment.

The answer to the question of whether Alex should have pulled the plug depends, in a way, on what you think happened next.

In fact, Hugo Boss is not out there like a shadowy Marie Celeste, doomed forever to float on the Southern Ocean. Alex needed rescue urgently because the keel head was swinging loose and was smashing on the hull sufficiently to splinter carbon. The boat was already making water and soon she was going to be holed. Less than two days later, the boat’s Sat C ceased transmitting. Hugo Boss is gone.

Could a boat down here ever be salvaged? It’s highly doubtful. At 49°S, nearly 1,000 miles south of Cape Town, there are no regular shipping routes. There is nothing down here. It’s a long and rough five days’ steaming from Cape Town. Salvage has been done at nearly this distance from shore in the North Atlantic (Bernard Stamm’s keel-less boat was salvaged in 2004), but the Southern Ocean is a different proposition.

Finally, would the decision have been influenced by economic considerations? No way. And, anyway, the comment that no insurance company will insure solo sailors in Open 60 is wrong. Open 60s have to be insured to get an IMOCA class certificate, without which they cannot race. The class has its own arrangements. So, yes, Hugo Boss will be covered. But I doubt that is consoling Alex right now.