Speed bump

British sailor Alex Thomson and co-skipper Neal McDonald forced to retire from Transat Jacques Vabre after hitting object in the water.

05 November 2019


At 09:37 GMT Sunday morning, while sailing at approximately 25 knots, Thomson and McDonald, onboard the Hugo Boss IMOCA 60 boat, hit a submerged unidentified object in the water. Both skippers escaped without major injuries however the boat sustained damage to its keel, marking the end of the race for the British sailing team.

Speaking from onboard the boat after the incident, Thomson said:

“This morning, Neal and I were both awake, going about 25 knots, when we hit something in the water. I was stood inside the cockpit just behind the pedestal. Neal was just behind the cockpit door.

“We’re not sure what we hit but it was something big under the water, which must have been submerged to have hit our keel and physically stop the boat at 25 knots. The keel sustained a lot of damage and it was left attached only by the hydraulic ram.

“Neal and I are both physically OK. No major injuries, just some bruises. We were very lucky. If you were to get into your car, close your eyes, and drive at 40 miles an hour into a brick wall…that’s what it felt like!”


Ross Daniel, Technical Director at Alex Thomson Racing, said:

“Together with Alex and Neal, our technical team has today been evaluating a number of different options. The decision has been made that the safest course of action is for the skippers to sail to the Cape Verde Islands, around 800nm away from Hugo Boss’ current location.

“Alex and Neal are currently sailing at up to 7 knots in light winds. They will continue to sail cautiously in a south easterly direction to the Verde Islands. With the current weather conditions, we estimate that the journey will take around five days.

“We are in constant dialogue with Alex and Neal onboard, and are continuing to closely monitor the boat’s status. Our technical team is preparing to meet Hugo Boss in the coming days, in order to offer assistance to Alex and Neal in bringing the boat safely into port.

“The safety of our skippers, and that of the boat, remains our number one priority”.


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