A team of 25 are working non-stop to ensure Alex Thompson gets to the start line
The team from Alex Thomson Racing have been working around the clock since the collision with a French fishing vessel on Friday (17 October). The full technical team from Alex Thomson Racing have been drafted in, and in addition Sir Keith Mills (Chairman of Alex Thomson Racing) has brought in support staff from Team Origin.
The damage that Hugo Boss suffered was severe. The mast, which came down during the incident was broken 5 metres from the deck – but was luckily recovered. David Barnaby from Southern Spars has been on site and the mast has been deemed repairable. All the sails were recovered and were undamaged, and have been sent to North Sails France to be serviced.
Hugo Boss was hit just forward of the mast bulkhead, which is a structural forward keel bulkhead. If the boat had been hit 2 metres aft or forward of this point, it is possible the boat could have been cut in half. The size of the damage in the side of HUGO BOSS hull is 5 m x 2m (roughly a third of the length of the boat).
French Vendée Globe skipper Yann Eliès and his team have offered the mould from Generali. The boats are fairly similar and the team plan to make a new section of the hull from the mould and fit it to Hugo Boss.
The team have been working alongside Pascal Conq, the designer at Finot Conq, structural engineer Dr. Paolo Manganelli from SP, and Multiplast in Vannes to decide the best way to repair the extensive damage. The priority right now is to find a solution that allows a strong repair but also a fast one. This will be difficult to balance, but crucial if the team are to make the start line on 9 November.
Hugo Boss was lifted out of the water into the commercial dock in Les Sables d’Olonne, where the keel was removed. Yesterday afternoon the boat was moved again to a local boat yard. A team of 25 will now begin work on the damage to the hull and deck; the repairs to the mast have already begun.
“We have an incredibly dedicated team that are on site who are determined to make sure I am on the start line on 9 November,” explained Alex. “I cannot explain the devastation the team and I felt on Friday and it has been a tense few days as we work out how we can fix the issue at hand.
“The support we have received from the local community, the race organisers, other teams, my sponsors and from back home in the UK has been overwhelming. I would particularly like to thank Lisa Radineau from Alliaura Marine as without their offer of yard space the task would be impossible. We think that this is an achievable task, but we cannot do this without everyone’s continued support. The focus for the team is no longer just winning the race but getting to the start line. That will be a huge achievement in itself”.