Thomson opts for a powerful boat but one with a chequered history


Mystery solved. What was Pindar, the big-assed Juan Kouyoumdjian-design IMOCA 60, doing being rebranded in black, looking daily more like Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss?

All was revealed on Friday when Thomson’s team announced that he has bought the boat to be his steed in the 2012 Vendée Globe. He is to sell his Finot design but will race it in the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Costa Rica in November.

The deal involved the part-exchange of Alex Thomson Racing’s Volvo 60 which Team Pindar will operate in Bahrain alongside their existing VO60, using them for corporate hospitality, team building and charter.

The purchase of the Juan K boat is quite a bold move. The Finot design Hugo Boss was badly damaged in a collision with a fishing boat before the start of the Vendée Globe and delaminated in the first few days of the race. So it could be hard to sell for top dollar: new 60s are being built; a lack of sponsorship is depressing the market; and, not least, there could be – or could be seen to be – a question over its integrity and/or skipper confidence.

It is bold, too, because Pindar had structural problems in the Vendée Globe, forcing Brian Thompson to boatbuild halfway round the world, a service and achievement that has not gone unpunished. Allegedly, there still some issues with the keel and Alex tells me the plan is to replace it and change the rig to make the sailplan more manageable.

One of the attractions of this boat, however, is that it is one of the most powerful IMOCA 60s in the class and will remain so, as the rules are being changed to cap further development. So it has plenty of potential on paper but also a chequered history to overcome.

Alex has not plumped for the conservative option here. But should that come as a surprise?