The damage to Hugo Boss, a monohull, is currently being assessed
One of Britain's major hopes for the Vendee Globe has suffered a big setback with just three weeks to the start of the solo round-the-world yacht race.
Alex Thomson's 60-foot boat, Hugo Boss, was holed by a French fishing vessel two miles outside the harbour of Les Sables d'Olonne in western France.
The yacht, which was also dismasted in the incident at 0130 BST, has motored into port to get the damage assessed.
"I'm devastated," said Thomson, one of seven Britons in the 30-boat event.
Thomson was optimistic of his chances before the accident
"I have spent four years preparing for this Vendee Globe and I don't intend to quit now.
"There are three weeks and two days left before the start. I'm lucky to have a great team around me and have already faced some tough challenges, and on each occasion, we have found the solutions.
"Until someone tells me I can't line up for the start on 9th November, you can count on me being there."
The 33-year-old Thomson is set to make his second start in this year's sixth edition of the Vendee Globe, the race which made Ellen MacArthur famous in 2001.
The other Britons in the fleet are Samantha Davies, Dee Caffari, Mike Golding, Jonny Malbon, Brian Thompson and Steve White.
Golding, third in the Vendee Globe in 2005, rescued Thomson in the Southern Ocean when Hugo Boss suffered keel damage during the 2006 Velux Five Oceans Race.
Thomson was also forced to withdraw from the last Vendee Globe three years ago with structural damage to Hugo Boss.
The three-month Vendee Globe starts in Les Sables d'Olonne on 9 November.