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Son's condition keeps Thomson from race


Further problems have hit British yachtsman Alex Thomson’s bid to compete in the Barcelona doublehanded round the world race. Having had to hand over to substitute co-skipper Wouter Verbraak because of having his appendix out 48 hours before the start on New Year’s Eve, he had planned to rejoin Andy Meiklejohn in the Cape Verde Islands .

Since then, on 7 January, partner Kate gave birth to their son, Oscar, in Southampton, but he has been diagnosed with a heart condition, coarctation of the aorta.

Thomson has announced that he will, therefore, remain in attendance at the hospital. No date for his return to the race course has been indicated.

At the front of the fleet, the leaders, Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron, are making fast progress south in the Atlantic trade winds. Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart are second, 53 miles behind.

The Anglo-Spanish pairing of Dee Caffari and Anna Corbella is ninth, while Verbraak and Meiklejohn bring up the rear of the 14-strong fleet, 685 miles behind the leaders.

French skipper Jean le Cam, with Spanish co-skipper Bruno Garcia, has reported that their yacht President has been dismasted and that they are heading for the Cape Verde Islands