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Verbraak to stand in as Hugo Boss skipper

Wouter Verbraak, an experienced ocean racer from The Netherlands, is to substitute Alex Thomson as skipper of Hugo Boss for the start the Barcelona two-handed non-stop round the world race.

Thomson will then, at some point to be decided and after medical clearance, be allowed to resume his role as a skipper in the race. He had an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday.

With co-skipper Andy Meiklejohn of New Zealand, Verbraak, who sailed with Guillermo Altadil on Estrella Damm in the round Europe Race, will join the rest of the 14-boat fleet of 60-footers leaving at 13.00 on New Year’s day.

The leaders are expected to return to the Mediterranean city in about 90 days with Thomson, assuming there is no other problem, then alongside Meiklejohn.

The Adelaide-based Secret Men’s Business 3.5, a 51-footer designed by Reichel-Pugh and owned by Geoff Boettcher, was declared the overall winner on handicap of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. Eighteen of the 87 starters retired in up to gale force headwinds.

Belgium’s Christophe Bullens is to make a third attempt to start on Saturday leg two of the Velux 5 Oceans singlehanded race around the world from Cape Town to Wellington.