Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vendee: Thomson hits object, generator, rudder damaged

HUGO BOSS 081112 2108

Alex Thomson, sailing Hugo Boss was flying in the Indian Ocean, 150 miles from the leader, on day 31, about halfway round the globe when his boat struck an object. The damage to his starboard hydrogenerator is so severe that his ability to finish is doubtful. These boats use a lot of power - lights, computers, SAT phones, GPS. All those have to go into power save mode, weakening his links to his shore team, depriving him of information. And the rudder repairs sound dubious to me. Nonetheless he is again back on track, doing 19 kts., having lost only one position.

Damages Alex ThomsonThe rudder repairs were harrowing. Alex reports:

"On inspection the starboard rudder fuse had broken and the rudder had lifted with minor damage. The hydro generator blade was damaged and one of brackets was in pieces and eventually lost overboard. The rudder tie bar (the previously unbroken one) was also smashed in 3 pieces.
I set to work swapping tie bars to get the leeward rudder operational so I could steer safely in the right direction. The waves were very big and were coming up and over the transom and mainsheet traveller and were hitting the rudder blade while lifted. Both rudder cassettes sustained some damage while doing this and it was pretty dangerous hanging off the transom while being completely submerged by the waves.
Eventually I got the working rudder connected and started sailing again with the port rudder in the air. I contacted the team and started affecting a repair to the tie bar. I have been unable to sail at 100% while managing this repair. The repair has been done in a similar way to the previous tie bar but it has been more difficult and time consuming as the breaks were not clean and the conditions to affect a repair less forgiving. I will not be able to repair the cassette damage until it is dry on deck but the team feel that these repairs are not critical right nowI expect to have both rudders working bythis morning.: