First sailor out with “an almighty bang”

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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. –

Photo: AFP

Ber­trand De Broc’s mono­hull “MACSF” starts the Vendee Globe off the coast of Les Sables-d’Olonne, western France. on Novem­ber 6, 2016.

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