Samantha Davies entered the public eye during the Vendée Globe 2009. During the months spent in solitary on Roxy, Sam showed her considerable spirit and joy of sailing to all who didn’t yet know her. Her achievement (finishing 4th in the Vendée Globe, first woman in the race, first Briton to finish) found an extraordinary echo in the media and with the public. Her style and generous sharing of the most beautiful and arduous of all the solo races, touched and seduced the public, but also, and above all, her qualities as a sailor, her sense of tactics and her clever head placed her 60-footer ahead of latest-generation boats in the race rankings. Highly respected by her peers, a member of the Pôle France in Port La Forêt and a talented former Figaro racer, Sam has stridently entered the ranks of the great sailors of this world.
Sam Davies completed the two thousand mile 2004 La Solitaire Le Figaro Offshore Solo Race as the top Briton and one of only 3 females in the tough French dominated single handed race.
Sam trained at the prestigious school for offshore sailors in Port La Foret, where she was the only British sailor ever to have been awarded a place in their elite team of sailors.
Learning from the experts has been key to her progression – the training has already paid dividends as her performances in the 2004 season have been impressive – a 5th place in the two-handed transatlantic AG2R and 10th place in the overall Championships for the year. She has raced in everything from Olympic campaigns with Shirley Robertson (who won Gold in Athens), to giant maxi-catamarans the size of 4 tennis courts such as in Tracy Edwards’ ill-fated Jules Verne round the world record attempt which following a dis-masting left Sam and her team thousands of miles from land, mid Southern Ocean, dream over.
Sam has sailed her whole life and when she was attending Cambridge University she worked her way up the UK’s male dominated professional crew circuit as a top ‘bowman’, taking part in several big events including the Fastnet Race, the Mumm36 World Championships and the Women’s Keelboat Worlds. In 2001, Davies competed in the ‘slightly crazy’ single-handed Mini-Transat race across the Atlantic, finishing 11th out of 65 tiny 21 foot boats, and was the first female competitor to reach Brazil.
Previously from a fully crewed background, from that moment on her ambitions lay with solo sailing and following an invitation to join Ellen MacArthur’s team in 2003, Sam is now competing in the top solo circuit in France. Sailing a Figaro is not a ‘cruise’ – each 3 to 4 day leg usually allows a maximum of an hour or two of sleep in total, taken in 5 minute naps, such is the level of competition.
During the Calais Round Britain Race in April 2007, Sam and her all-girl crew of Jeanne Grégoire, Miranda Merron, Alexia Barrier and Sharon Ferris set a new all-female Round Britain record. Sam continued her 60’ Class training with a choice performance in the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre Race with her friend and colleague Jeanne Gregoire. The girls finished in tenth place.
The Transat Ecover B to B to Brittany, France, in December 2007, was Sam’s first single-handed transatlantic race onboard ROXY. This perilous Atlantic crossing in the middle of winter was very hard on the boats. Despite the terrible conditions, Sam hung on. She finished 7th (out of twenty), without a single problem, and pocketed her qualification for the Vendée Globe.
On 14th February 2010 Sam completed her first Vendee Globe, coming in a remarkable 4th place. To understand just how much she is at ease on the water, there is this simple statement slipped in before the start of the race: “I”m doing the Vendée Globe because it’s the longest race I know to be alone at sea” . Since her solo tour, Sam has set a new Round Britain record on Aviva, finished second in the Rolex Fastnet Race in August and participated in the Jacques Vabre on Artemis Ocean Racing with the French skipper Sidney Gavignet. Despite considerable damage and awful weather conditions, this has been an especially rich adventure for Sam, who is currently working on the design of a new boat to line up at the start of the 2012 Vendée Globe.