The British yachtsman Alex Thomson stood on board his damaged yacht, Hugo Boss, moored to the quayside in Guadeloupe this morning and told the assembled media that he did not deserve to win the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.
Thomson had been leading the 3,542-nautical mile solo transatlantic race almost from the start on November 4 off Saint Malo and was approaching the Guadeloupe archipelago when he over-slept, allowing his boat to hit the rocks on the northernmost tip of Grande Terre island.
In order to save his boat from being wrecked the 44-year-old sailor from Gosport in England, had to start his engine to get back into deeper water. Although he managed to complete the race and was the first in the 20-strong IMOCA class to cross the finish line earlier today, he was subsequently handed a 24-hour time penalty by the race jury for using his engine.
Alex Thomson spoke with the media at the dock and saluted Paul Meilhat who is less than 150 miles behind.
“I hope Paul will win,” said Thomson, his voice momentarily cracking. “You know, he has done a really great race on a boat without foils and I look forward to welcoming him tomorrow. He should be the winner.
“For me,” he continued, “all I can do is live and learn – it’s the land of hard knocks as we say in England. You have to try and stay strong; you have to learn, you have to be better and ultimately, obviously, I wanted to win this race. But the aim is to win the Vendée Globe and I think I’ve proved in this race that I can win the Vendée Globe.”
So Thomson’s last competitive outing in this spectacular Hugo Boss yacht has come to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. The Briton charged out of Saint Malo at the start and then took a lone course to the north of the fleet that was typically courageous and then never looked back. He pushed hard almost all the way, setting a pace that no one else could match. Now his focus is on his new boat that will be delivered to his team next summer.
Elsewhere on the racecourse the French sailor Lalou Roucayrol who capsized in his Multi50, Arkema, about 1,000 miles east of Guadeloupe has now been safely picked up by Pierre Antoine whose Olmix is leading the Rhum Multi class.
Meanwhile Erwan Le Roux on FenêtréA-Mix Buffet has become the second Multi50 skipper to finish the race behind class winner Armel Tripon on Réauté Chocolat.
On the other ide of the Atlantic the female skipper Claire Pruvot on Service Civique has been rescued by a cargo ship after she crashed into it, seriously damaging her Class40 yacht about 460 miles due west of Cape St Vincent. She is said to be safe and well.