11 years after being dismasted in the South Pacific, Sam Davies rounds Cape Horn in 4th place

Eleven years after being dismasted in the South Pacific – at the age of 23 on board Tracy Edwards maxi catamaran – Sam Davies (Roxy) today achieved one of her dreams, rounding Cape Horn.

Lying fourth in the Vendée Globe she rounded at 0920hrs GMT this morning (12 January), passing 62 days 21hrs and 18 minutes after the race start in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Eleven years ago Davies was still very much on the nursery slopes of her professional sailing career, part of Tracy Edwards’ all girl crew attempting to break the Jules Verne record. Seven days ago Davies passed the spot where the mast collapsed. Today she made it to Cape Horn as an experienced solo sailor, lying in fourth place.

Racing the boat which has won the last two races, Davies’ time for the Southern Ocean (Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn) of 34 days 15 hours 50 minutes compares favourably with that of Vincent Riou – winner on the same boat in 2004 who took 33 days 6 hours, 25 minutes.

Davies’ course was made over 1100 miles longer by the ice gates, and she was diverted north to the aid of injured Yann Eliès. Looking bright eyed and contented, Sam Davies admitted that she was sad to be seeing the back of the Southern Ocean -especially the Pacific – where she has thrived on the long surfs, and strong conditions:

“It’s incredible especially after the last 24 hours. I’ve had some tough conditions up to 50-knots in the squalls with some nasty seas. Last night the boat was knocked down by a wave. So it’s a great relief to see the Rock, even if it was dull and I didn’t really see much.

“I saw it nevertheless. I was seven miles away. I would have liked to have been closer, but I had to gybe twice. For the second one to find my lay line, there was a 50-knot squall. I didn’t want to gybe with 50 knots, as that would have been a bit tricky. So I waited for the squall to go by and gybed with 40 knots of wind, so I was a bit further away than I wanted, but I didn’t want to take any risks.

“I’m still waiting for the seas to calm. There’s still 42 knots of wind and the boat is doing 20 knots with a peak of 25 knots on surf. My camera is full of salt, but you can see three reefs, so it’s a bit hairy.

“I can put it on my CV now. I’ve waited 11 years to round this rock and it’s great to be back in the Atlantic. I’m still enjoying myself. Even if yesterday when I was sailing in the shallower waters off the Horn, where the sea bed rises from 4000 metres to less than 100 metres, there were some big surf and it was the first time I’ve been afraid in this voyage.

“I clung on inside and shut myself in, which was a good idea as just afterwards boat was knocked down by a wave and the cockpit was full of water. I know I’m very, very lucky to be able to do the Vendée Globe with Roxy and I am enjoying every minute. But I’m a bit sad though to leave the Big South behind after such a great voyage in the Southern Ocean. I think Roxy is a great boat for these conditions, so I’m a bit sad it’s all over. I can’t wait to come back here in four years!’

“I knew it would be hard to do better than Vincent (Riou)’s time, because the course is longer and then, there was the time I took to go to help Yann. It’s nice to have that calculation done, as I can be proud. I shall continue to sail in the same way and not push too hard and remain cautious, and not be too greedy. I’m not really looking at the rankings.

“In reality, I’m probably sixth, as Marco has a bonus of 50 hours more than me and Vincent may well end up ahead of me. I’ll just be trying to get back up the Atlantic as I came down with a good trajectory, good manoeuvres and good speeds. The objective is to get back to Les Sables d’Olonne, and I hope to be there in four weeks. The position in the rankings is just a bonus.”

Meanwhile fellow British female skipper Dee Caffari (Aviva) has discovered further delamination to her stricken mainsail and will have to do her utmost to nurse it to Cape Horn, 1200 miles in front of her with the prospect of one storm before she reaches the rocky top of South America.

At the front of the fleet Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnment) has confirmed this afternoon that he has completed the necessary repair work to his mast support bulkhead and his keel box. Jourdain is 238.1 miles behind Desjoyeaux.

Contacted by his shore team Roland Jourdain today said “I’m pleased about my night and this final piece of work using bunches of battens from the mainsail, which I stuck together to form a solid bar, and then stuck onto the bulkhead at the foot of the mast to consolidate everything.

“It should be as solid as concrete to ensure we get home, unless there is something I haven’t seen of course. Now I’m going to have to get the speed back up. I’m going to try to clean up a bit, as there’s dust everywhere. It makes you itch all the time. It’s hell.”

Rankings 15:00 GMT Sunday 11 January

1. Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) at 5179.4 miles
2. Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) at 238.4 miles
3. Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) 722.4 miles
4. Sam Davies, GBR, (ROXY) at 1774.1 miles
5. Marc Guillemot (Safran) at 2116 miles
6. Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 2862 miles

Selected International

8. Dee Caffari, GBR, (AVIVA) at 3048.1 miles
9. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) at 4221.4 miles
10. Rich Wilson, USA, (Great American III) at 5059 miles
11. Norbert Sedlacek, AUT, (Nauticsport-Kapsch) at 6341 miles