Friday, 14 January 2011

BWR: Hugo Boss Races on Without Alex Thomson

* Alex Thomson has made the decision to remain in England to be able to closely monitor the progress of his infant son Oscar who was diagnosed with a heart condition called coarctation of the aorta
* HUGO BOSS will continue in the Barcelona World Race with substitute skipper Wouter Verbraak (NED) and Andy Meiklejohn (NZL)

Andy Meiklejohn and Wouter Verbraak wave goodbye at the start of the Barcelona World Race. Image copyright Christophe Launay / Hugo Boss.

by Barcelona World Race Media

The couple’s baby Oscar, who was born 7th January, was further examined by medical consultants in the UK this morning (Tuesday) where they determined that his condition has stabilized.

Alex Thomson and his partner Kate have been advised that further close monitoring will be necessary over coming weeks.

Thomson has made the decision that he will not be joining HUGO BOSS in the Barcelona World Race as he had hoped following his recovery from an emergency appendectomy on 29th December.

He will remain in the UK to be with his baby son and partner.

The IMOCA Open 60 will continue in the Barcelona World Race with skipper Andy Meiklejohn and substitute skipper Wouter Verbraak. Verbraak stepped on board the boat on 31st December when the race started as a temporary substitute for Alex until he received medical clearance, however he will now assume the full role of Skipper of Hugo Boss for the duration of the race.

Stewart Hosford, Team Director said this morning “As a team we feel relieved that Oscar is being so well looked after and his condition is more stable. We fully understand and support Alex’s decision not to join HUGO BOSS as planned. We have every confidence that Andy and Wouter will do us proud.”

From on board the boat, Wouter Verbraak (NED) reported:
“There have been 24 hours of mixed emotions. On the one hand we are very happy that the decision has been made. We are very happy that we can go on, but at same time we can see that Alex is going through a very tough time at home, and so our thoughts are with him. And we hope that it is all resolved for the best.

"We have discussed this a lot. We always had the focus on Alex joining the boat in Cape Verde. We have had to make a mental switch, and I have had to inform my family that I won’t be home but will probably be home in another 70 days. So it is all a bit surreal really.

"We got the message from our team yesterday around midday. And at that stage it came as a bit of a surprise to us. We have been taking this whole trip so far just living in the moment and doing the best we can, but we said ‘ well actually this has been working quite well, let us continue doing what we have been doing, and let us concentrate on being fast to the equator, and try to catch up with the group ahead of us.

"There will be a bungee effect but yesterday afternoon we were next to one of the other Open 60’s and we have put 12 miles on them so we have potential and that we can do a job.

"Long term we have to realise that this is like a basketball game, there will be a lot of opportunities to go back and forwards, and making some good moves and trying to put some points on the board, but in the end it goes down to the last few minutes of the race, the final sprint up the Atlantic and so our focus is to keep in the game, focus on making good moves and not wearing ourselves out and being ready to punch in the last part of the game

"Physically we have to say that this boat is a handful. Having gone from crewed sailing it is a very different level of exhaustion that we are learning to experience. But mentally we have been in such limbo these last days that today it is a feeling of relief, and focus on catching up.

"Actually as Alex would not have been able to bring anything on the boat, we have all his clothes on the boat. Before the race start there was too little time to get a full supply of clothes for myself. So I find myself in Alex’ clothes for this trip around the world. And he is an XL (Extra Large) and I am a Large, I have plenty of space in them!

"Actually the funny thing is there is a lot of Norwegian food on the boat which only I am able to know what it is (he lives in Norway). Andy has to ask me what we can have for dinner.”

Barcelona World Race