If Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) ever retires from sailing he might be able to open a mechanic’s workshop after unveiling the result of seven hours handiwork with his grinder.
Thomson, who was still in sixth place last night, keeping pace with the lead group and 123 miles from Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) at the front, suffered the scare on Saturday.
“I was low on battery juice so I popped the hydro down and went below to see how many amps were going in. At the time I was averaging about 18 knots and I heard a strange noise so went to the door and I could see the hydro (generator) vibrating very severely and getting worse. I realised it was going to break and rushed to pull it up but before I got there it ripped off the back of the boat and did a cartwheel and smashed the starboard tie bar. I was on port tack so the starboard rudder was not connected to anything and I knew instantly that the boat would wipe out. It did, but I managed to get the boat flat and got downwind to roll up the A3 spinnaker keeping the port rudder in the water doing all the steering.”
That’s when the real work started. Between 12 and 12.30pm on Saturday, Hugo Boss was almost stationary as Thomson cannibalised his port rudder bar and started sailing again.
“The bar is a very thin carbon tube about 3m long which was broken in two places, and we do not carry a spare unfortunately,” Thomson said. “Cliff (Nicholson) our composite engineer is a genius problem solver and he came up with a plan with Ross (Daniel) and (Simon) Clarkey which would splint the breaks using carbon strips. I firstly had to cut the strips with the grinder with a diamond cutting blade I have onboard. I was not looking forward to doing it because literally everything would be covered in carbon dust. I cleared the cockpit and got to work all while averaging 19 knots of boat speed. I managed to do it without cutting a finger off or cutting through the cockpit floor. Once I had finished I was covered in silver paint and back carbon dust and the cockpit looked like Cliff’s workshop. The repair sure ain’t pretty but it should be functional and was about seven hours work all in plus some tidy up time. I was pretty knackered but pleased. It has been an amazing team effort.”
There might have been reason to feel jinxed as this Hugo Boss is Seb Josse’s old boat from the last Vendée Globe and Josse was forced to retire to New Zealand in the last race after nearly capsizing and damaging his port rudder.
The fix certainly seemed to work as Thomson, previously better known for his speed than his handiwork, had the best 24 hour speed times in the fleet on Sunday, beating the five new boats in front of them. Thomson can now focus on navigating a path through the Doldrums which are further north than usual. The lead boat should reach them in the next 24 hours.
Alex Thomson snickrar båt
Lite kolfiberreparation under tiden som Hugo Boss susar fram i 20 knop. Jag har för mig att jag har sett små fina reparationskit med prepreg-matta? Men det kanske väger för mycket?