At the Transat Jacques Vabre a few days ago it was almost a hair's breadth of what was probably the most exciting boat of the class: At 25 knots speed, Alex Thomson rammed a drifting object with his brand new "Hugo Boss" and tore the keel out of the boat; it was only connected to the ship by the hydraulic swivel arm. Thomson decided on a radical solution: he cut off the keel and sailed 800 miles further towards Cape Verde with only the water ballast.
The boat at the christening in London in September
A move that well illustrates the British's determination and radicalism. Because that's exactly how he designed his boat: The new "Hugo Boss" is the first Open 60 with a completely closed cockpit. The skipper works and trims from a command center deep in the belly of the ship. Cameras replace the view across the deck and provide information about the trim of the sails. It is also the first Open 60 that only has an electric motor and, with around 20 square meters of solar panels and lithium-ion battery banks, relies entirely on renewable energies instead of diesel.
The huge foils lift the boat far out of the water
And then there is what is probably the most spectacular hull in its class: the ship drops off sharply fore and aft, is narrower than all the others and has the most powerful foils that look gigantic at 7.5 meters. The concept seems to be working: During the first tests "Hugo Boss" sailed 32 knots with a wind of 18 knots. At the Transat, after a botched start of the Open 60, she went 24th, nine miles behind the leader, for the first mark. Then it went on on a wide course, and the Briton plowed through the field that at times looked as if it was parked. He easily passed the leading "Charal", which was considered the favorite - and was then slowed down by a defect in the sail.
Skipper Alex Thomson
It seems as if Alex Thomson has managed again what the previous model had already achieved: to build the fastest boat in its class at the moment. The YACHT met the skipper before the race at the christening in London and was given an exclusive tour of the ship and the command center deep down in her stomach.