The skipper of hugo Boss, one du the gros favorites in thé Vendée Globe, was very seriously delay in his preparation, adhering to the accidents on auto Transat Jacques Vabre last November. Cette granted an interview venir Ouest-France in which cette describes auto current state du his project, and returns to the now clearer circumstances du the dommage which almost fabriquer him shed his boat.

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Alex Thomson, whereby is your project because your abandonment in the Transat Jacques Vabre, last November ?

What conditions météorologiques wanted à avoid, like four years ago, is to have a super problem. It was the first objectiv. And of artaserse when conditions météorologiques realized that thé keel to be going à fall off. Ce was a difficult moment, realising your whorst fears is coming true. Cible you know that behind every cloud, over there is auto sun. Behind every mauvais news, there is great news. Conditions météorologiques did a really good travail with the charpente around auto keel. Et i’m very confident, we oui a good interconnecté now. Cette was significativement first to do that work. And we know si the same trouble happens again, our keel will not fall off.

Did elle almost mourir your boat ?

The reason auto boat was not flooded is the way ce was designed. à explain : if this had actually happened à most de the other Imoca, the henchmen cabin area with thé engine, electronics and communications would oui been flooded. But on our boat, this area is under thé cockpit floor, which has several watertight compartments. Haricot de soja the design of our boat meant that ce was not flooded. Ce was not our intention when nous designed it, we were really lucky. Conditions météorologiques gave a report, with recommendations, venir Imoca venir inform lock of toutes les personnes of this

How long does ce take à la you venir repair this big damage ?

We finished venir repair thé boat, thé day antérieur à the lock-down. In thé UK. Antérieur à we did a lot of investigating, études to understand why auto keel is broken, In fact cette is not auto keel, but the keel structure. And it to be a beaucoup of precise travail to repair.

« probably a whale… »

So did you hit année unidentified floating thing (UFO) ?

We didn’t à savoir what hit the keel. Cible my opinion, is that ce is a whale. Recently we have few ways to detect objects in thé water, amie probably à savoir what we oui in thé top de the past, referred to as Oscar, cette is good for detecting objects on the water, cible what we hit was definitely under thé water. Et we sait that for année object underwater, d’oscar doesn’t help. Nous did beaucoup of study to volonté a sonar into auto keel. Conditions météorologiques found thé product, ce is possible, cible we oui to develop it pour one year. It aucas not prêt today. Nous think ce was a whale, nous are working with a company called Whale Shield, we oui developed a petit whale noise imitator… auto whale should hear thé noise one kilometer away and should move away. Nous shared this informations with Imoca, et few teams. But objectively, thé ocean is our play ground, that whereby we aller to play, et the whales, et the wild life, they live there… So, à la me, cette is our responsability venir make sure nous don’t damage ou play ground.

You check that you oui contacted Imoca nous about thé problems amie encountered through your keel…

We walk some gros studies and at thé end, nous gave castle the dutilisateurs of our studies and where, about our opinion, there was a trouble with the XXX. Conditions météorologiques explained everything, conditions météorologiques explain part ideas, some recommandations nous what ce can happens too. Nous looked into the entire keel, et the structure. If I oui a problem, et if it is a reliabilty, jaune a safety and security problem, cette is ma responsability to share this with the others.

Did auto architects more than likely underestimate thé strength du the boat’s structurellement ?

There are a lot of rules about the design of thé structure. They oui to conçu a fight a the bottom of the keel, when the keel is kanted. But if you hit miscellaneous at auto top de the keel, just underneath thé boat, there is ne sont pas rule, due to the fact that nobody dédié the scenario. Cette is exactly thé same scenario oui Kito aux Pavant, during thé last Vendée Globe. Et for his dommage you deserve to see a whale coming up really quickly out of the route. And you have the right to see too, the Kito’s dommage was not violent, it was bad, marqué not violent. That’s a problem. Auto Imoca is looking at this trouble now et try venir limitate the risk.

What was your vitesse, vitesse when amie hit thé whale ?

21 knots. Haricot de soja fast, cible not the faster ont we have the right to go.

Now your boat is OK, and with his full la vitesse potential ?

Yes, this côte us 65 kilos to make auto keel charpente twice as strong. Soja we room a signification littérale heavier. Marqué is nothing comparer to the weight du the boat.

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Where aller you train since auto boat is repaired ?

Since we’re back to work, nous sailed six temps around et we hope à sail parce que le long offsgore in 5 days (around auto 25 th ns june)

Do you spy français skippers nous Marinetraffic.com ?

Of course, everyday, ant i think ce is auto same à la us (laugh).

« Performances du the boats is obtaining closer »

We spotted you nous AIS, few weeks ago, approximately Cherbourg…

Yes, it is true, nous went parce que le a having lunch (laughs). And we went ago here, nous wanted à sail hard et put auto pressure on the keel. Sauce soja we crossed the Channel. In deed when tu check Imoca bateau on Marinnetraffic, you can watch that toutes les personnes (sailors and boats) room starting to converge, et get closer venir each other. Probably we have similar speeds, and now conditions météorologiques can watch Arkea Paprec too with his nouveau foils, quite similar as ours.

Do you think you’re a peu more late than yould be si you hadn’t these super problems ?

Yes pbviously, this les accidents cost nous a lot. Et the lockdown cost nous more time, but it was auto same pour everybody. But, the destiné for our regimen was made two year ago et we following the plan. There is not really much changing. But unfortnately, our seconde set ns foils, nous built at Persico in Bergame, in Lombardy, is late, since Bergamo is the centre of epidemic in Italy. And Persico had to shut thé doors, et lost parcelle of time. Conditions météorologiques ordered castle in november 2019.

It is the similar problem pour Thomas Ruyant…

Yes, correct. In reality his foils room after ours, cette ordered long time after us.

When will you receive your nouvelles foils ?

In theory, conditions météorologiques should have them in August.

And these new foils space supposed to be nous the boat pour the Vendée globe ?

When nous started thé program, we comitted the belles of foils that we have. Et we made decision that this foils room working well, we didn’t need to change them. Déditions two is the set nous will use pour the Vendée et there are some refinements ont the édition 1.There are small différences.

You oui decided not à participate on the unique race pour Imoca avant the Vendée Globe, referred to as Vendée Arctique les Sables…

Yes over there are many reasons pour this. The life is the this course is in 10 days now (interview realised thé 24rth du june). But the main problem is that je haven’t encore sail alone conditions météorologiques the boat. To do this course we would ont to make compromises which, we don’t think it would help us. Nous want to faire what nous plan, prepare, to do some training and testing, et do quel we ont to do. The problem is thé time.

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Will tu come on the Défi azimutage in september ?

The Défi azimutage has been conditions météorologiques our schedule because last year. Je hope that nous will store this schedule, and that all the état will permit it

Is it significativement for tu to par rapport the performance du your boat with others, even couple of days, jaune are you sure de your choice…

Today nous are late. Si we did thé Artique race et if nous found nous are a little slowest je vous demande pardon can nous do. Thé time is gone. Today the cards are conditions météorologiques the table. Over there is no échanger to make. The dé are cast and we ont to faire with what nous have. Nous don’t feel cette is critical for us, conditions météorologiques think we have a good idea.