The Transat Jacques Vabre is a biennial double-handed sail race from France to Brazil. The fleet set out from Le Havre last week, but in a matter of days the number of contestants was dwindling.
Three days after the start of the race on Oct. 25, Alex Thomson and Guillermo Altadill, skippers of the IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, reported that their boatincurred structural damage, possibly because of a rogue wave.
After making repairs, they decided to return to shore to better analyze the situation. Thomson and Altadill headed for the Spanish city of A Coruña, where a technical team was waiting to meet them. After they sailed for 36 hours in high seas and strong winds, the boat deteriorated further and it started to take on water and sink.
On Halloween, the skippers set off an emergency beacon. The Spanish coast guard quickly responded and hoisted the two sailors to safety 82 miles offshore.
Launched Oct. 6, the Hugo Boss had little time before the Transat Jacques Vabre, which was to be its first shakedown trip as Thomson began to build momentum toward the primary goal — winning the solo unassisted round-the-world Vendée Globe race for IMOCA 60s in 2016.
“It was an incredibly unusual event and we need to understand why it happened,” said Thomson. “It was a rogue wave, but we should not have inverted the way that we did. I am now going to go with the technical team and ensure a successful recovery of our new racing yacht.”