Thomson suffers as storms batter Globe racers

By Stuart Alexander
Tuesday 11 November 2008 01:00

A wild and bumpy second night saw Britain's Alex Thomson reporting structural damage to Hugo Boss when lying ninth and two of the Vendée Globe singlehanders dismasted as the non-stop round the world race turned into a demolition Derby, hit by 50-knot winds and big seas yesterday.

Both Yannick Bestaven in Aquarelle and Kito de Pavant in Groupe Bel were dismasted but no-one was reported injured as a total of seven of the 30 starters, including Thomson, had been forced to turn back within two days of the start. Thomson had been in a race against time to make the start after making major hull repairs following being rammed, holed and dismasted by a fishing boat.

The almost dream start that had been Dee Caffari's introduction to the top division of solo ocean racing had seen her hold onto eighth place in Aviva until the conditions push her down to 15th, leaving Mike Golding the top-placed of the seven British skippers at 12th in the Merfyn Owen-designed sistership Ecover , having fought his way from being 24th when he had to restart for being over the line early in Les Sables d'Olonne.

The rest were still making their way west on an even worse second night with winds of up to 50 knots after being kept busy with slamming waves, changing sails and direction and missing out on sleep for the first 24 hours.

Back on track was Switzerland's Dominique Wavre, after fixing a battery charging problem on Temenos. But fellow countryman Bernard Stamm had to bring Cheminées Poujoulat back to port to build and fit a new bowsprit after hitting a Maltese freighter. He was followed to a waiting shore crew by one of the favourites and 2000 winner Michel Desjoyeaux after springing a ballast tank leak which swamped the engine and its electronics.

Also heading back was Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty with deck damage to Groupe Maisonneuve and Derek Hatfield reporting electrical problems on Spirit of Canada.

Both Stamm and Desjoyeaux hope to restart today, 48 hours behind a leading group headed by Loick Peyron in Gitana Eighty and Sebastien Josse in Ellen MacArthur's BT, chased by all the big names of French solo sailing, including Roland Jourdain, third in Veolia Environnement.

The British pair of Sam Davies in Roxy and Brian Thompson in Bahrain Team Pindar were 16th and 17th.

"The first night has been full on with too many sail changes and tacks," said Davies, who has benefited from her decision to join the group taking a more southerly option before heading west. Thompson had also been handed a four-hour penalty because he still had support crew onboard with just four minutes to the start. Solo means solo.

Jonny Malbon's Artemis was 23rd, one place behind Steve White in the 10-year old Spirit of Weymouth, also supporting the Toe in the Water charity.

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