A stone's throw from the Route du Rhum finish to win the Imoca category, Welshman Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) crashed Thursday night against a cliff in Guadeloupe, after being supposedly asleep.
The boat was heavily damaged in the collision, including a hole in the hull, an impacted arch, a damaged starboard sheet and a keel. But not seeing a course of water, the skipper chose to try and finish his race.
"Alex (Thomson) cried violently on the edge of the cliff while the boat was sailing at 18 knots (33 km / h) .The skipper cleared the cliff by putting the engine," said race director Jacques Caraës, stating that he was A complaint has been made for the use of the engine. An international jury must decide in the next few hours.
The British star of the offshore regatta, which drove the fleet of Imoca (18 m monohulls), stumbled on a cliff at the tip of the Grande Wyrm (north of Grande-Terre) between 21h45 and 22h00 local time ( 01:45 and 02:00 GMT).
"I can not confirm he was sleeping, but it all suggests he was asleep," Caraës said, "I think he fell asleep, it's already happened at the end of the race and more than one (competitor)."
According to the race director, he remains "a good dozen good hours" at Thomson to cut the line, while it was expected, before the accident, Friday at 07:00 local time (11:00 GMT) as 4th competitor to cut the finish line and as the winner of the Imoca class. Since 2002 and the coronation of Ellen Mc Arthur, no more English have prevailed on this transatlantic.
"He was shocked and very sorry at the sound of his voice, he did not see the sudden arrival," Caraes said.
Thomson, 44, participates in his first Route du Rhum and entered Imoca, the monarch Vendée Globe, around the world in solo and non-stop, where he participated four times with a 2nd place at the last edition in 2016 In 2020, it intends to resume the commencement of the Vendée Globe at the helm of a brand new boat, launched next summer.
From Sunday 4 November and the departure of the 123 boats of the Route du Rhum, the Welsh made the race at the top of Imoca. Thursday night, he provided 209 nautical miles (387 km) ahead of Paul Meilhat (SMA), about 14 hours of sailing between the two boats.
Meilhat is scheduled for Friday at Pointe-à-Pitre at 22h20 (02h20 GMT), perhaps the winner of Imoca …
Strong winds ahead
Because if Thomson has clearly demonstrated his willingness to want to finish the crossing, it remains to know if the damaged boat will be able to support to navigate the most difficult elements that will meet on the profile of the island to reach the starting line Pointe -a-Pitre. Especially in the Saintes Canal, winds should reach 19 knots (35 km / h).
And if the skipper arrives to cross the line, he could get penalties for the use of his engine …
On Thursday, in the late afternoon, Armel Tripon (Chocolate Rite) completed the podium after 11 days 7 hours and 32 minutes of crossing.
Sunday, the 62-year-old Dean Francis Joyon (Idec Sport) won the Route du Rhum in 7 days 14 h 21 min, after a grand duel with the young (35) François Gabart (Macif), 7 min 08 sec sec.
11/16/2018 08:00:43 –
Pointe-à-Pitre (AFP) –
© 2018 AFP