VIDEO: A message from Alex Thomson
Published on November 30th, 2020
After incurring damage on November 27 to the starboard rudder of his boat, British sailor Alex Thomson was forced to retire from the 2020-21 Vendée Globe on November 28, 2020. In this video, Thomson speaks for the first time after his dreams of Vendée Globe victory end in heartbreak.
Background: Following the damage, Thomson disconnected the starboard rudder and had been sailing the yacht with just one rudder. After assessing the situation a day later, the skipper and his team have decided that the only course of action is to cease racing and sail the boat to Cape Town.
“Unfortunately, a repair is not possible,” said Thomson. “We therefore accept that this will be the end of the race for us. Myself, my team and our partners are of course deeply disappointed. We believe the best was yet to come in this race”.
The incident occurred on what was Thomson’s 19th day of racing, and it followed significant effort over the last five days and nights (Nov. 22-26) repairing cracks to the internal bow structure of his boat. Thomson was getting into his stride at the gateway to the Roaring Forties where his latest generation IMOCA was designed to be at its best.
However, after the rudder damage, he slowed to 10-11 knots and was in 15th place, 752 nautical miles behind leader Charlie Dalin.
One of the two outstanding favorites alongside Jérémie Beyou on Charal, who also suffered from problems, Thomson was third on the 2012-13 edition and finished second in 2016-17 after fighting back from being 48 hours behind eventual winner Armel Le Cléac’h at Cape Horn to finish only 16 hours behind the French skipper.
Luck has rarely run in his favor on this non-stop solo round the world race. In 2004-05 on his first attempt, he had to abandon into Cape Town with damage to his deck after his boom gooseneck failed and in 2008-09 he had to retire early in the race with structural problems caused by a huge gale on the Bay of Biscay.
Endorsing his ranking as a pre-race favorite, Thomson had lead the race for six days, crossing the Equator with a lead of 70 miles. He was lying second, just 45 miles behind leader Charlie Dalin, when the initial structural problem surfaced.
The Vendée Globe is the only sailing race round the world that’s solo, non-stop, and without assistance, and it was all systems go for the 9th edition on November 8. Beginning in 1989 with 13 entries, the start line in 2020 had 33 skippers taking off from Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
The development of the IMOCA Class toward foiling will see these boats hurl themselves around the world, teetering on carbon skates through inhospitable regions, chasing the record set in 2016-17 by Armel le Cléac’h of 74:03:35:46.
Nov. 16, 2020 – Nicolas TROUSSEL, CORUM L’EPARGNE – dismasted
Nov. 28, 2020 – Alex THOMSON, HUGO BOSS – damaged rudder
1989-90: 13 boats at the start
1992-93: 15 boats
1996-97: 15 boats
2000-01: 24 boats
2004-05: 20 boats
2008-2009: 30 boats
2012-2013: 20 boats
2016-2017: 29 boats
2020-2021: 33 boats
Fabrice AMEDEO: NEWREST – ART & FENÊTRES
Romain ATTANASIO: PURE – BEST WESTERN
Alexia BARRIER: TSE – 4MYPLANET
Yannick BESTAVEN: MAÎTRE COQ IV
Jérémie BEYOU: CHARAL
Arnaud BOISSIÈRES: LA MIE CÂLINE – ARTISANS ARTIPÔLE
Louis BURTON: BUREAU VALLÉE 2
Didac COSTA: ONE PLANET ONE OCEAN
Manuel COUSIN: GROUPE SÉTIN
Clarisse CREMER: BANQUE POPULAIRE X
Charlie DALIN: APIVIA
Samantha DAVIES: INITIATIVES-CŒUR
Sébastien DESTREMAU: MERCI
Benjamin DUTREUX: OMIA – WATER FAMILY
Kevin ESCOFFIER: PRB
Clément GIRAUD: COMPAGNIE DU LIT / JILITI
Pip HARE: MEDALLIA
Boris HERRMANN: SEA EXPLORER – YACHT CLUB DE MONACO
Ari HUUSELA: STARK
Isabelle JOSCHKE: MACSF
Jean LE CAM: YES WE CAM !
Stéphane LE DIRAISON: TIME FOR OCEANS
Miranda MERRON: CAMPAGNE DE FRANCE
Giancarlo PEDOTE: PRYSMIAN GROUP
Alan ROURA: LA FABRIQUE
Thomas RUYANT: LINKEDOUT
Damien SEGUIN: GROUPE APICIL
Kojiro SHIRAISHI: DMG MORI
Sébastien SIMON: ARKEA – PAPREC
Maxime SOREL: V AND B – MAYENNE
Alex THOMSON: HUGO BOSS
Armel TRIPON: L’OCCITANE EN PROVENCE
Nicolas TROUSSEL: CORUM L’ÉPARGNE
Source: Alex Thomson Racing, Vendee Globe