HUGO BOSS is making slowed speeds SE’wards down the race course early this morning after Alex Thomson’s team last night alerted Race Direction of the Vendée Globe to a possible structural issue on board Thomson’s black and pink IMOCA when it was lying in second place, racing 800 miles east of Rio de Janeiro.
The British skipper has reduced speed to lessen the loading on the boat while a solution was being sought in consultation with the designers VPLP and engineers. He alerted his team of his concerns at around 1900hrs UTC last night, Saturday, and the Alex Thomson Racing Team issued a short statement which was published around midnight UTC.
Since last night’s 2100hrs rankings report HUGO BOSS made 42 nautical miles overnight, averaging six knots, around half the speed of race leader Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) who passed about 23 nautical miles to windward of HUGO BOSS around midnight, the French skipper taking over second place in the race.
The leading trio are racing in light, variable winds. Just before the alert was made to Race Direction, Thomson had been averaging around 16kts, the forecast swell being around 1.7m. Overnight he has conceded around thirty miles to the leader Ruyant. More information will be shared during Sunday.
The leaders are looking to wriggle through a zone of lighter, unsettled airs to reach the stronger conditions at the fringe of the Southern Ocean. Speaking at 0400hrs this morning Charlie Dalin had not yet learned of his British rival's problem. "I hope it's not too bad and the extent of the damage is limited. Most of all I hope that this does not mean the end of the Vendée Globe for him. We are having a great race with him. Alex being part of this trio is very stimulating ”
Talking of the weather Dalin said, “I have the impression that I am reliving a doldrums passage but it is even more bizarre. I found some pretty strange variable winds, sudden changes in direction and force, I really didn't expect that. I even got gusts from the NW yesterday. This morning, the sea is flatter and there is a beautiful starry sky, it is beautiful ".
As the leaders slow down in these light conditions so there has been a small gain by the chasing group, Ruyant and Dalin making around 12kts to fourth placed Jean Le Cam’s overnight average of 14kts, the gap reducing by some 25 miles to 274 this morning.