Alex Thomson: British sailor forced out of Transat Jacques Vabre race by damaged keel

Neal McDonald and Alex Thomson
Neal McDonald and Alex Thomson were onboard Hugo Boss when it sustained damage

British sailor Alex Thomson has been forced to withdraw from the Transat Jacques Vabre race after severe damage to the keel of his Hugo Boss boat.

Hampshire's Thomson, who is bidding to win the Vendee Globe in 2020 on board the 60ft Imoca class craft, was unhurt.

He and former Olympic sailor Neal McDonald have been competing together in the double-handed race.

They had completed just over a third of the 4,350-mile course from France to Brazil at the time of the accident.

Thomson, 45, unveiled the new £6m edition of his boat in September and this was the first time it had raced competitively.

Early on Sunday, while racing at around 25 knots, they hit something in the water which left the boat's keel only attached by the hydraulic ram.

The team said it was not clear what they hit when the vessel was about 420 miles southwest from Madeira and 380 miles northwest of the Canary Islands.

They are now working to find the safest port to navigate to.

Thomson, from Gosport, finished second in the 2017 Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race and is aiming to become the first British winner in 2020.

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