Hugo Boss forced to cut off keel in Transat Jacque Vabre
Published on November 4th, 2019
(November 4, 2019; Day 9) – Alex Thomson and Neal McDonald on Hugo Boss had to cut the keel off their IMOCA 60 after damage forced them to withdraw yesterday from the 14 edition of the Transat Jacque Vabre Normandie Le Havre, the 4,350-mile biennial double-handed race from Le Havre, France to Salvador de Bahia.
“Last night Alex and Neal were both able to get some rest on board Hugo Boss,” Ross Daniel, Technical Director at Alex Thomson Racing, said. “In the early hours of this morning the skippers resumed their attempts to stabilize the keel.
“Despite their very best efforts, it became clear that keeping the keel attached would put the boat at great risk. With the keel attached only by the hydraulic ram, and in an unstable position, there was a serious risk of significant damage to the hull.
“We did everything that we could to preserve the keel but collectively we determined that it was far too dangerous to keep it in place.
“Therefore, with guidance from our team shore-side, Alex and Neal set about cutting the hydraulic ram to free the keel from the boat. After many hours, they were successful in their efforts and the keel is now no longer attached to the boat.”
Hugo Boss had completed just over a third of the 4,350-mile course of this biennial double-handed race to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil – the longest and toughest in the sailing calendar – when they informed the race office that they collided with an unknown object.
The newly-launched and much admired Hugo Boss is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and now about 460 miles southwest from Madeira and 400 miles northwest of the Canary Islands.
“Alex and Neal have filled the ballast tanks on board and fully extended the foils in order to keep the boat as stable as possible,” Daniel said. “They are currently in light winds and a slight sea state, and we are comfortable that there is no immediate risk to the boat or the skippers.
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.
For the first day since the start of the race, none of the three classes competing have experienced a change of leader. The Class40 are joining the others fleets in the trade winds, they are not a terrain with many overtaking options, they are more about positioning and looking for the best corridor through the Doldrums, which the leading Multi50 will reach at the end of the evening.
At the 15:00 UTC ranking, the fastest boat in the leading group was Charlie Enright (USA) / Pascal Bidegorry (FRA) on the 2015 foiler, 11th Hour Racing. Charal may be the most optimized of the new foilers, but they are feeling the heat from behind as they seek the best angle into the Doldrums.
Overnight 11th Hour Racing had moved up two places from fifth to third and at the 15:00 UTC they were just a mile behind the new foiler, Apivia. 11th Hour Racing covered 416 miles in the last 24 hours, 48 more than Apivia and 28 more than Charal, which is 71 miles ahead.
Angles and wind shadows are a feature of this course, where milestones can become millstones if skippers get the passage past (or through) Madeira, the Canary Island and Cape Verde wrong.
In what are proving to be particularly unstable trade winds, 11th Hour Racing benefited from being further west, but they are undoubtedly fast and Enright, on debut, is looking for more than the third step of the podium.
Britain’s Samantha Davies has climbed back two places into sixth on Initiatives-Coeur, 162 miles behind the leader. She began her overnight message to the race office in confessional mode: “Eight days ago, on the first night of the TJV, in 30+ knots of wind, our big gennaker (or A3 in sailing terms) blew out.” The good news is they may not need it again and the Doldrums offers a real chance of podium place.
After entering the trade winds overnight, the four Class40 boats at the front of the fleet have lengthened their stride and taken significant advantage over the rest of the fleet. It is advantage which grew significantly during the day as the newer boats sped away under spinnaker.
After a tough first week, they should now accelerate all the way to the Cape Verde islands. For all the efforts of Britain’s Sam Goodchild and his French co-skipper Fabien Delahaye on Leyton in second, the newly-launched Crédit Mutuel (Ian Lipinski and Adrien Hardy), clearly has the edge at the moment, and has shown it in a variety of different conditions over the past few days.
At the 15:00 UTC ranking, Crédit Mutuel had extended the lead over Leyton to 30 miles, after covering 20 more miles (290) in the last 24 hours. Aïna Enfance and Avenir was a further seven miles behind in third.
“We have 15 -18 knots and an easy sea,” Lipinski said this morning “This is the third idyllic night since the start. We haven’t touched the helm since Ushant (after the first night).
“The passage through the ridge went well, without any particular complication, and we’re as happy looking at our track on Adrena, as a skier looking back at his track after descending a slope.”
A little like in the IMOCA, small Class40 groups have formed and they are having their own races-within-the race. We will have to wait until the entire fleet has passed the Canaries to establish a reliable hierarchy within the fleet of 22 duos still en route to Salvador de Bahia.
Eärendil left Madeira this morning at the same time as Equipe Voile Parkinson was approaching the island to also make repairs.
• Groupe GCA Mille et un sourires tonight.
• Charal: Early in the overnight within next day or two.
First held in 1993, the biennial Transat Jacques Vabre has three fleets of doublehanded teams – Class40s, Multi50s, and IMOCA 60s – competing from Le Havre, France’s to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The 4350nm race started October 27 with estimated race times as:
Multi50: 11 days
IMOCA: 13-14 days
Class40: 19 days
Source: Transat Jacques Vabre