"I'm fine, but my boat is sick," said the Brit yesterday from aboard his Open 60. "I was below deck, the waves were very steep and the wind was around 40 knots when I suddenly heard a loud one I heard a crash. My first thought was: The mast!"
"But the noise came from further down. So I thought: The keel! But it wasn't that either. When I looked up I could see the sky …"
The boom fittings on the tree had torn away from the deck, leading to a hole about 30 by 30 centimeters in the cabin roof. Thompson had to take off the mainsail and make a tough decision. "I just run to Cape Town with the headsail on to decide what to do. I sent a photo of the damage to the boat's designer, Marc Lombard. It may be possible to repair it in calmer waters, but I'm afraid I don't have enough material for that on board."
This means that the likeable, young Briton, who is notorious for driving at the highest risk, is on the verge of collapse. Even if he managed to repair it, he would fall far behind the peloton that is overtaking him. And the latter is already around 1,000 miles behind the top.
After Marc Thiercelin, who broke his bowsprit yesterday and lost a gennaker, Alex Thompson is the second skipper with serious technical problems. Thiercelin did not say whether he would be able to finish the regatta, but has so far maintained course and boat speed. Those who actually only need the bowsprit for the gennaker can continue to sail, at least if the hull has not suffered any further damage.
Apart from the two unlucky ones, little has changed in the field in the last 24 hours. Jean Le Cam is still leading with "Bonduelle" ahead of Vincent Riou with "PRB", who has come back to within five miles after his long swing to the north, which cost him almost 80 miles on the leader. His plan to sail further north in less chaotic seas and with better wind angles seems to be working.
Behind them the group of two has split up from Roland Jourdain's "Sill et Véolia" and Sebastien Josses "VMI". Jourdain has set off about 100 miles from Josse and is now 360 miles behind the top. Mike Golding's chase has stopped, who at times came within 480 miles of the lead. After being overtaken by the continuous low yesterday, it is currently losing important miles again in weak winds. The Brit surprised yesterday with a rather original explanation of how he managed to catch up: "When the storm subsided a bit, I set sail as much as I could and then went to sleep. You don't have to worry about that. It worked well ! "
The next 24 hours seem to be tough for almost all skippers and their boats: While the leaders currently have to deal with high cross seas while sailing close to the wind and wait for the trend to turn north-westerly, the rear field has already made the strong next low reached. Hervé Laurent ("UUDS"), in 10th place, reports of eight meter high lakes, storms and wild surfing down the wave crests with top speeds of around 30 knots.
The Austrian Norbert Sedlacek, who has been sailing at the end of the field with a gap of almost 200 nautical miles since the start, also has problems: He reported a "minor catastrophe", that is, one of his important headsails was almost completely torn in a gust.