The extent of the structural damage is such that it is extremely unlikely that, even if he had enough materials on board, the repairs would be robust enough to withstand the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. Though Alex, his shore crew and the team at Lombard have worked continuously to come up with ideas and possible solutions, it is with great regret that Alex has taken the decision to retire.
'It appears that the deck was not built to our original specification,' confirms Eric LE$VET of naval architects, Marc Lombard, 'as reinforcements are missing from the original construction stage, five years ago. This is why the deck skins have collapsed around the post, leading to this disastrous outcome.
'The area damaged is located in a highly stressed zone at the back of the mast step, where compression loads are enormous. We are very disappointed for Alex and the whole team as they have done a wonderful job since the start of this project.'
The team plans to make the necessary repairs in Cape Town and sail the boat back to the UK in the New Year. 'I am totally gutted that all my hopes and dreams have ended this way,' says Alex. 'This is a huge disappointment, not just for me but also for the rest of the ATR team and the sponsors, after the tremendous amount of hard work we have all put in.'
However, he remains upbeat about the future. 'We have all learned a tremendous amount during the race and this is certainly not the last you will be hearing from Alex Thomson and HUGO BOSS!', he concludes.
As part of this, Alex has already confirmed that he plans to enter the 2008 Vendée Globe race.