Following initial reports that Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss had grounded on rocks during the final miles of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and while leading the IMOCA class, Race Direction has contacted the British skipper to check his status.
They have ascertained that while sailing on port tack at the north end of Grande Terre island, Hugo Boss ran aground on rocky cliffs around 21:45hrs (local time/0145hrs UTC Friday).
The accident occurred at the north end of Grande Terre, just south of the Grande Vigie lighthouse on La Pointe à Claude.
Upon hitting the cliff, Alex Thomson had to lower his sails and start his engine to reverse his boat from these rocks. He was able to extract himself from the reefs before re-hoisting his sails to resume his passage. Thomson stopped his engine and then set a new seal on the propeller shaft.
The skipper was not injured but there is damage to his boat. The crash box in the bow is damaged and has taken in water but it is contained, and the bowsprit is damaged. The water is contained by the forward bulkhead.
The starboard foil is damaged. According to Thomson’s conversation with the Race Director, the keel and its structure are certainly also affected. But it has not been possible to establish a more precise diagnosis during the hours of darkness.
Currently, the boat is sailing at a speed of 7 knots and continues its passage around the island towards the finish line.
Approaching the small island at Tete à l’Anglais he has about 50 miles to go until the finish line.
The International Jury was immediately informed by Race Direction of the accident and it will file a protest against Alex Thomson for using his engine during the race.
A safety boat has been sent and will accompany Hugo Boss in case it is needed.
Hugo Boss show signs of what appears to be superficial damage along his starboard hull with gouge marks from his grounding on the north end of Grande Terre clearly visible at the stern, on the foil and at the bow.
Thomson is completing his race having had to start his engine after hitting rocks and is now about 30 miles from the finish line but making only around two knots in the light winds during the hours of darkness. He and his team are evaluating the damage to his boat and there is no word yet about what may have happened below the waterline.
As the British skipper tries to complete his victory, the focus will switch to the race jury who will have to decide whether he should receive a time penalty for using his engine, albeit it in an emergency and in a situation when safety concerns were clearly paramount.
Behind Thomson on the racecourse there is still a big gap to second-placed Paul Meilhat on SMA who had 190 miles to run but was still travelling at 17 knots. He is expected to slow down once he gets closer to the islands. Just under 20 miles behind him Yann Eliès on UCAR-Saint-Michel is holding third place.
The next finisher in the Multi50 class after winner Armel Tripon (Réauté Chocolat), is expected to be Erwan Le Roux on FenêtréA-Mix Buffet who had only 50 miles to go to the finish.
Way back east meanwhile, Yoann Richomme on Veedol-AIC still looks comfortable at the head of affairs in the Class40 fleet with a margin over second-placed Phil Sharp (IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY) of just over 100 miles and with 1,080 to go.