Alex Thomson explains the sequence of events leading up to his restart of the 5 Oceans Race last night 26/10/06
The last 48 hours have been frantic and it’s fantastic to be back in the Velux 5 Oceans, back at sea and racing again. Hugo Boss and I rejoined the race off Gijon, north-west Spain, at 18.22 on Wednesday and I’m now trying to catch Bernard and Koji.
It was great to be the first boat across the start line of the Velux 5 Oceans, and gutting to then be the first to experience problems as the fleet was battered by severe gale force winds off Cape Finistère, Spain. When Hugo Boss got knocked flat and the head sail was completely shredded, I was forced to turn back to shore and suspend racing at 18.22 on 23 October.
Initially I had hoped to be able to repair the damaged headsail but it very quickly became obvious that it was beyond repair. We frantically tried to source a replacement and North Sails built us a new one overnight, for which I’m very grateful. The rules of the race are such that any competitor that suspends racing in order to seek outside assistance must take a 48-hour penalty before he can continue in the race. So when Clarkee turned up with the sail with just half an hour to go, Rossco, Scott and I dragged it onboard straightaway and watched the last few moments of the 48hr penalty tick away. And then I was off!
Bernard and Koji have a great head start having managed to battle through, but this is a long race not a sprint and I’m confident Hugo Boss and I can make up some ground. I’m relieved that the damage Mike, Unai and Robin has not been too serious, and more importantly that none of them are injured, but I fully intend to take maximum advantage of the next 24 hours. Fremantle here I come!