Alex Thomson makes decision to abandon ship in treacherous Southern Ocean 23/11/06

Alex Thomson’s dream to become the first British sailor to complete three round the world yacht races in the next three years have today been dramatically torn apart. Thomson’s yacht Hugo Boss suffered severe structural failure to the keel in the early hours of this morning. He has been liaising with his shore team to bring the keel under control but sadly the breakage is irreparable. It is with great reluctance that Thomson and his team have concurred that it is not safe for him to continue in the Velux 5 Oceans.

At 1100 GMT, Thomson made a formal decision to abandon ship and seek rescue from his nearest competitor Mike Golding aboard Ecover.

Thomson is unhurt and is currently drifting downwind 1,000 nautical miles south of Cape Town (South Africa) in the desolate Southern Ocean, and 80 miles due west of Ecover. He has reduced sail up and is making 4-5 knots. Mike Golding will have to sail upwind in 30 knots of wind and big seas in order to rendez-vous with Thomson and he expects to reach Hugo Boss in around seven to eight hours time. Thomson will abandon ship and transfer via a life raft to Ecover – no easy task in big seas and high winds.

Alex Thomson’s shore team issued the following statement:

“Alex and his shore team have found a temporary solution but it is just not reliable enough for him to risk continuing in the Velux 5 Oceans yacht race. Alex is very tired and hugely disappointed but he is being extremely focused and pragmatic. His safety is of utmost importance and the priority now is to get Alex safely off the boat.”