‘Imagine driving your car into a brick wall at 40mph – that’s what it felt like’

Gosport’s Alex Thomson and his co-skipper Neal McDonald have been forced to retire from the Transat Jacques Vabre Normandie Le Havre -  the team’s debut race on board the new HUGO BOSS boat.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 11:02 am
Alex Thomson

Both men escaped injury when their boat hit a submerged unidentified object in the water while sailing while sailing at approximately 25 knots, damaging the keel.

Recalling the moment of impact, Thomson said: ‘I was stood inside the cockpit just behind the pedestal. Neal was just behind the cockpit door. 

‘We’re not sure what we hit but it was something big under the water, which must have been submerged to have hit our keel and physically stop the boat at 25 knots. 

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‘The keel sustained a lot of damage and it was left attached only by the hydraulic ram.

 “Neal and I are both physically OK. No major injuries, just some bruises. We were very lucky.

“If you were to get into your car, close your eyes, and drive at 40 miles an hour into a brick wall…that’s what it felt like!’

The incident occurred on day seven of the Transat Jacques Vabre, the  world’s longest and toughest double-handed transatlantic race which takes skippers, in their pairs, on a 4,350 mile journey from Le Havre, France, to Salvador, Brazil. 

Thomson and McDonald were over a third of the way into the race, and were situated around 380 miles north west of the Canary Islands.