First sailor out with “an almighty bang”
VENDEE Globe leader Alex Thomson’s boat was damaged and the Welsh sailor taken by surprise by “an almighty bang” after hitting a submerged object in the South Atlantic on November 19.
Thomson’s scare came as French skipper Bertrand de Broc became the first of the 29-boat fleet to retire.
De Broc had to raise the white flag on day 13 of the gruelling solo round the world race following his detour to a Brazilian archipelago on November 18 with an “unbearable” incessant banging on his boat.
After diving twice to check his boat’s hull, de Broc, tackling his fourth Vendee, discovered damage from a collision with an object off the coast of Portugal.
“Having to take this decision is very hard to bear,” said the 56-yearold, one of the ocean’s characters who earned the nickname Rambo in the 1992-93 race when he sewed his tongue back together at sea.
“It is bound to happen some time in a skipper’s career, but it doesn’t make it any easier to bear,” the French sailor added of his enforced retirement.
“I’m disappointed. But it would not be reasonable to face the Southern Ocean in this state.”
De Broc was placed 14th, well over 1000 miles adrift of Thomson who had been trying to get some sleep after a stormy night’s sailing when his Hugo Boss boat collided with a mysterious object.
“I was averaging 24 knots when I heard an almighty bang and the boat stopped and turned to starboard by about 20 degrees,” he recounted.
“I quickly went on deck, eased the main sheet and realised I must have hit something.
“I eased the boat down wind and went to take a look and the starboard foil has been damaged and there are some scrapes on the starboard side of the boat.”
He added, “I didn’t see anything in the water but it felt like the boat wrapped itself around something and it has caused some pretty significant damage to my foil.”
The scare has forced Thomson to ease up until conditions relent so he can carry out a thorough inspection of his boat.
“For now I am going to continue and assess when I get the chance.”
Thomson, third in 2013, has built up a significant 120-nautical-mile lead in the three-month odyssey over Armel Le Cleac’h with Sebastien Josse a close third. –
Bertrand De Broc’s monohull “MACSF” starts the Vendee Globe off the coast of Les Sables-d’Olonne, western France. on November 6, 2016.