Published on October 31st, 2015
(October 31, 2015; Day 6) – Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill, skippers of yacht IMOCA 60 HUGO BOSS in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre, set off their emergency beacon this afternoon at 13.25UT. The Spanish Coastguard was informed and sent a rescue helicopter to their location 82 nautical miles from the Spanish coast. Both Alex and Guillermo were rescued from the location by helicopter and are on their way back to land.
After the race start on October 25, the team reported on October 28 that HUGO BOSS incurred some structural damage, and Alex and Guillermo had hove to at 15:00 to address the problems. Later that day, after making a repair, they made the decision to return to shore to better analyze the situation.
The skippers were on route to A Coruna where the technical team were waiting to meet them. After sailing for a period of 36 hours in high seas and strong winds, the structure of the boat deteriorated further and the boat started to take on water and sink. The technical team are in A Coruna, Spain awaiting further information from the coast guard.
“Our first concern is with Alex and Guillermo and when they are safely on the ground we will address the situation with our IMOCA 60 and begin the salvage process,” commented Managing Director Stewart Hosford. “We are grateful for the swift response from the rescue services in this situation.”
Launched on October 6, the new VPLP/Verdier designed HUGO BOSS was reported to be 5% lighter than the team’s previous racing yachts. The yacht build, which involved many of the same techniques and technologies applied in Formula One, took place at Green Marine in Southampton.
The boat had very little time before the Transat Jacques Vabre, which was to be used as its first shakedown as Thomson began to build momentum in the run up to the primary goal, which was to win the solo, unassisted, round-the-world Vendée Globe race for IMOCA 60s in 2016.
UPDATE #1: (November 1, 2015) – The Alex Thomson Racing Team reports they are heading back out to sea to bring HUGO BOSS safely ashore. Assisting in the recovery is Alex Thomson.
Describing the incidents that led to the abandonment, the skippers had made a second structural repair and were hove to prevent any unnecessary damage. Whilst waiting for the weather to clear a rogue wave caught HUGO BOSS, causing the yacht to turn upside down.
Alex and Guillermo managed to close the hatches and secure the situation whilst inverted. Alex immediately hit the keel button, bringing the IMOCA back upright. They then alerted the rescue services and technical team of an emergency situation. The yacht had taken onboard a substantial amount of water and the rig had sustained damage requiring the skippers to leave the yacht.
“It was an incredibly unusual event and we need to understand why it happened,” Alex explained. “It was a rogue wave, but we should not have inverted the way that we did. “
UPDATE #2: (November 1, 2015) – Alex Thomson and his team are onboard HUGO BOSS which is now in a stable situation. Alex’s IMOCA 60 is undergoing the necessary checks in order to tow her back to A Coruna, Spain. The rig has been removed and the water onboard pumped out, allowing the racing yacht to be towed. The weather conditions have enabled Alex Thomson Racing to complete a swift response to the emergency situation which occurred yesterday. The yacht is currently situated 100 miles offshore. The crew will remain onboard to make the necessary checks to ensure a safe tow through the night.
“I am proud of our team considering the potential severity of the situation,” reports Technical Director Ross Daniel. “Of course it’s disappointing we have had to retire from the race. But this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre has provided the fleet with challenging conditions, forcing seven IMOCA’s to retire. As a team we now need to focus on getting HUGO BOSS safely through the night and then assess the situation once she is in port.”
UPDATE #3 (November 2, 2015) – The team reports that HUGO BOSS has been successfully recovered and the yacht is tied to the dock in A Coruna, Spain. More here.