She may be out of the race, but Samantha Davies has stepped a jury rig and is about to sail back home
She may be out of the Vendée Globe race after her dismasting, but Samantha Davies has stepped a jury rig in Madeira and is determined to end her voyage by sailing her boat Savéol back to France.
As she described her dismasting on video last week, Samantha Davies fought to choke back tears. So much work by everyone, and the hopes her team, her family… Words failed her, and at that moment, with the rig cut away and unweighted boat plainly rolling viciously in the swell, your heart went out to her.
But within days she’d reached Funchal in Madeira, met up with with her partner, Romain, and boat captain, Erwan and started to search for suitable mast to get sailing again. She cannot continue the race because outside assistance is forbidden. She says: “My goal is to take my boat back to France. I don’t want to leave my boat here; it’s really the instinctive feeling I have as a sailor. I think I also want to prolong the adventure on board – I need this time at sea.”
As luck would have it, Sam was met in Funchal by a friend of her parents, a sailor who has done 52 transatlantics and knows Madeira well. He helped locate a broken mast from a Class 8 racing yacht. The stump is 7m long and Sam and her team have stepped this as a sawn-off jury rig.
Her plan is to leave Madeira today, weather permitting, and motorsail towards Cascais, where she will take on more fuel. Then she will head for La Coruña, refuel again and keep going towards Brittany, bringing her home to be reunited with her 13-month-old son Ruben.
The race will be much poorer without Sam. She was one of the most popular – if not the most popular – skipper in the Vendée Globe and a real star in France. It’s such a shame to lose the race’s only women and, with it, her cheerful, lighthearted perspective.
Sam is a great warm reminder that despite all the hardships and disappointments of this race, some skippers really are out there for the love of it.